'Self-neglect' one of the biggest risks to adults in Northumberland, committee hears

‘One of the biggest risks in Northumberland for adults is self-neglect’ – that’s according to the chairman of the county’s board responsible for safeguarding.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 2:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 12:41 pm
Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth.

This issue was highlighted as Paula Mead, the independent chairman of the Northumberland and North Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB), presented its 2018-19 annual report to a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing committee.

The report explained that a development session had taken place to ‘explore the cumulative risks associated with self-neglect and hoarding, and the impact on services and, more importantly, vulnerable adults’.

Moving forward a multi-agency task group has been established to develop a hoarding protocol and training resources.

Another key safeguarding issue is sexual and other criminal exploitation and the county’s Sexual and Criminal Exploitation Strategy for 2019-22 was launched this year, with the implementation of the multi-agency delivery plan to support it starting as well.

Ms Mead told the meeting that this was ‘not a big problem in Northumberland, but we don’t want it to become one’.

The past year also saw the continued development of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), which was launched in February 2018, and acts as a ‘front door’ for all safeguarding concerns and issues, for both adults and children.

Its creation had led to the number of adult concern notifications reducing by 25% from the previous year.

The covering report also notes that a triage system has seen the number of inquiries drop by 44% compared to 2017-18 and ‘demonstrates more appropriate concerns are being reported’.

At the meeting, Ms Mead recalled that the committee had last year asked whether the drop in inquiries and notifications was actually a positive and she confirmed again that it was, although it continues to be monitored.

She explained that it is sometimes difficult to ‘disentangle all the issues’ to determine what is a health and welfare concern and what is a safeguarding issue, but the MASH was helping to do this more efficiently.

The board’s key strategic priorities for the current year are transitional safeguarding arrangements, ie, for young people on the cusp of adulthood; early identification and prevention of domestic abuse; a focus on various forms of criminal exploitation; and making safeguarding personal.

The SAB is a multi-agency body of agencies responsible for safeguarding adults. Their shared role is to promote effective joint working and to hold each other to account for the quality of work with adults.