Head of Professional Standards in Adult Social Services presented the report with a document attached. She explained that "The self neglect, dignity and choice" document sets out guidance and procedure for responding to cases of self neglect. Even in cases where it appears that the risk to the individual may be significant, there may be no clear legal grounds to intervene. However the risks to individuals can be high with some cases of self neglect leading to the person's death and local authorities wondering should more should have been done to intervene.
The officer advised that it was important to have this document following recent cases where people at risk passed from one team to another or one service to another. The document is designed to be both a multi-agency guide to issues of self neglect as well as offering procedural guidance for case workers. She went on to say that there was no one piece of legislation that covered this area and the document offered useful guidance to all practioners.
A question was raised regarding the indicators of self neglect listed on page 4/5 of the document, especially relating to the environment section and hoarding and possible fire risk.
The officer replied that where possible housing officers would work with social work teams to assess the issues and solutions. This can be a long process as people who self neglect may be reluctant to have contact with social services and it is a matter of building trust.
Members welcomed the document and one asked if self neglect and mental health issues were treated in a different way as separate issues. She also asked if the issue of self neglect, especially hoarding, had always existed or is it a new phenomena or was it more common for it to be reported following recent media coverage.
In reply the officer stated that it was sometimes difficult to establish intention and that there was a need to build rapport with the person as they often distanced themselves from help. There was no one route and no quick fix', the Safeguarding board could not investigate under the normal process although instances self neglect fell under the safe guarding realm and there was often multi agency involvement.
Members asked if any research had been undertaken to link autism to self neglect. Was there a strategy to identify people to self harm or spot early signs?
The officer advised that she was not aware of any research but it is quite possible that some people who self neglect may be on the autistic continuum which is very broad. Many adults with autism will not have a formal diagnosis although increasingly children are being diagnosed. The reasons why a person self neglects may be many and various and would form part of trying to work with them to understand their problems and find a solution.
Following further discussion the Panel RESOLVED to note the report and accompanying guidance document.