Putting people at the centre: facilitating Making Safeguarding Personal approaches in the context of the Care Act 2014

Louise Butler, Jill Manthorpe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
385 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose-The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss the pilot Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) project that ran in three London boroughs in England in 2014-2015. The project aimed to help local authority social work practitioners better engage with adults at risk at the beginning, middle and end of safeguarding work and to develop a more outcomes focused approach to safeguarding. 

Design/methodology/approach-Three adult social care teams volunteered to take part in the MSP pilot for four months, November 2014-February 2015. They were closely supported through telephone conferencing, bespoke training and individual mentoring. Evaluative data were collected from the participating teams about their work and the MSP change processes to assist in further implementation. 

Findings-The findings suggested that staff felt that the open discussions with adults at risk that were encouraged by the MSP initiative enabled safeguarding to be more effective and provided a better basis of support for adults at risk. The support from the project team was appreciated. Staff reported their own increased confidence as a result of involving adults at risk in decisions about their situations and risks of harm. They also reported their increased awareness of cross-cutting subjects related to adult safeguarding, such as domestic abuse and working with coercive and controlling behaviours. Permission to exercise greater professional discretion to make responses more considered, rather than the need to adhere to time-limited imperatives, was received positively. Staff felt that this enhanced discussions about resolution and recovery with adults at risk although it required greater expertise, more extensive managerial support, and more time. These were available in the pilot. 

Research limitations/implications-The MSP pilot was confined to three teams and took place over four months. The numerical data reported in this paper are provided for illustrative purposes and are not statistically significant. As with other evaluations of implementation, the data provided need to be set in the local contexts of population profiles, care settings and the reporting source. The pilot also took place during the early implementation of the Care Act 2014 which affected the context of practice and training. The views of adults at risk were not collected. There is a risk of bias in that participants may have wished to convey positive views of MSP to their colleagues. 

Practical implications-The paper indicates a need for the roll out of MSP philosophy and MSP approaches to be communicated with other agencies supporting adults at risk and for project support of some form to continue. It will be important to see if the overall enthusiasm, support and motivation reported by the pilot teams when taking a MSP approach in practice extend beyond a pilot period during which the staff received substantial support from a dedicated Professional Standards Safeguarding Team. Many of those staff participating in the pilot perceived the MSP approach as a return to core social work principles and welcomed putting these into practice. 

Originality/value-The paper provides details of one pilot in which the feasibility of the MSP approach was tested by supporting three frontline teams working in different contexts. The pilot suggests that the level and type of support offered to the pilot teams were effective in a variety of practice settings. It draws attention to the need for the MSP concept and approach to be shared with other agencies and for implementation support to continue beyond initial pilot period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-213
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adult Protection
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Evaluation
  • Legal
  • Local authority
  • Making safeguarding personal
  • Practice
  • Safeguarding


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