Self-neglect is a lack of self-care. It is sometimes associated with hoarding and it may be indicative of an underlying mental health or physical support need. Practitioners can find working with people who self-neglect challenging. The important thing is to try to engage with people, to offer all the support we are able to, and to understand the limitations to our interventions if the person does not wish to engage. 

Robust risk assessment, information sharing, and partnership working with professionals across all relevant agencies supports effective safeguarding for people who self-neglect. 

What is Self-Neglect?

  • Lack of self-care to an extent that it threatens personal health and safety
  • Neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings
  • Failure to seek help or access services to meet health and social care needs
  • Inability or unwillingness to manage one’s personal affairs

What Causes Self-Neglect?

It is not always possible to establish a root cause for self-neglecting behaviours. It can be a result of:

  • a person’s brain injury, dementia or other mental disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder or hoarding disorder
  • physical illness which has an effect on abilities, energy levels, attention span, organisational skills or motivation
  • reduced motivation as a side effect of medication
  • addictions
  • traumatic life change.

Best Practice Tips

  • Robust risk assessment- gather background information from the adult AND from other relevant professionals to inform the risk assessment. Explore in depth the adult’s reasoning for their choices and their understanding of the risks.
  • Don’t take someone’s refusal of help at face value – respectful challenge and fact checking is important.
  • Seek to reduce risks wherever possible, and liaise with your manager or safeguarding lead.

What To Do If You Are Still Worried

If risks persist, raise a safeguarding concern with Adult Social Care on 01895 556633 or use the online form.

The safeguarding process provides a framework for agencies to work collaboratively to assess and manage risk where needed.