Self-neglect was the subject of this year’s Annual Conference held by the three Ayrshire Adult Protection Committees.
Hosted by East Ayrshire in the Boswell Centre, Auchinleck, the conference focused on the fact that self-neglect is a type of harm that is recognised within adult support and protection law, but is often misunderstood and therefore under reported.
Self-neglect can happen to an adult of any age when someone is unable, for a number of reasons, to take care of their physical and mental health or needs. This can lead to people not eating properly which affects their health, or not taking care of their personal hygiene which often leads to them becoming lonely and or isolated. Their home may fall into disrepair and for some, hoarding may become a way for people to cope with a range of emotions they are experiencing.
Over 100 delegates from across the three council areas covering the Adult Protection Committees and partner agencies came together to hear from keynote speaker Professor Suzy Braye. Her presentation was about drawing on research to help partners understand and respond to self-neglect and was titled “At worst it’s nobody’s business; at best it’s somebody else’s”. The message was loud and clear that the key to making a positive difference is to work in ways that allows time to build relationships with people in order to increase the chance of them trusting you and accepting support.
Other speakers at the full day event were Alison Goodwin from the Mental Welfare Commission; Linda Fay, Chronic Disorganisation and Hoarding Specialist from Lifepod, and Linda Taylor, Solicitor with North Ayrshire Council who discussed “assessment of self-neglect when adult support and protection options are ruled out” and launched a new Health and Social Care Partnership Legal Flowchart which staff could use to guide them in their work.
Eddie Fraser, Interim Chair of the East Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee and Director of the East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Self-neglect is a complex issue, often with underlying symptoms. It can have a real impact on the individual and those around them, be that family and friends or carers and professionals. Events like today’s brings people together from across agencies to discuss how best to support people who self-neglect. With a greater understanding and compassion, we can build trust and respect and work alongside people in the belief that ‘doing with, rather than doing things to’ people is more effective.”
For those who were unable to attend the conference, a video podcast will be available to each of the three Adult Protection Committees featuring the keynote speaker which will be used as a learning development tool for sharing knowledge with the wider workforce of how to prevent, recognise and best support those who self-neglect.