Writing a social work essay on adult safeguarding

Writing a social work student essay on adult safeguarding by Professor Jill Manthorpe, director of the Social...

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by Professor Jill Manthorpe, director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.

Writing an essay on aspects of adult safeguarding is likely to be intellectually interesting as well as useful in practice. Many people find it brings together different parts of an academic course – law, ethics, risk analysis and social policy, for example. If you are seeking a job in adult services, knowledge of adult safeguarding is likely to be important in selling yourself as up-to-date and conscious of the social work role.

Your essay question may offer a steer about whether the focus of your work should be on policy or practice. Policy is easy to research since there has been much interest in revising national guidance and research on policy effectiveness. The literature also provides opportunities to compare different systems internationally.

Like many areas, discussion in the literature generally has the benefit of hindsight and so we have limited examples of practice where abuse was prevented or stopped in its tracks. Care needs to be taken in seeing accounts of practice as inadequate without knowledge of the context.

Good essays on adult safeguarding will:

• be aware of the law;

• note that social workers’ practice takes place in an organisation that has policy and procedures on this subject, and that adults have rights to refuse help at most time.

You might find it helpful to draw on learning around the Mental Capacity Act, other legal provision, risk management and the limits of regulation.

In the context of personalisation, you will doubtless find material that talks of the risks from growing use of personal budgets. You will need to make judgements about whether this is balanced and proportionate.

Finally, like most subjects, care is needed about definitions. Watch out for essay titles that may be asking you to look at just one type of abuse or focus on one client/user group. This needs to be prominent in your answer.

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