What is Self-Neglect?

The Care Act 2014 defines self-neglect as wide ranging and covering:

  • Neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene
  • Neglecting to care for one’s health
  • Neglecting to care for one’s surroundings
  • Hoarding* which can include:
    • Inanimate objects (commonly clothes, newspapers, books, DVDs, letters & food/packaging)
    • Animals
    • Data

*Excessive collection & retention of any material to the point that it impedes day to day functioning.

This could also involve refusal of services, treatment, assessments or intervention, which could potentially improve self-care or care of one’s environment. There are other less overt forms of self – neglect such as: eating disorders; misuse of substance; and alcohol abuse. Self-neglect differs from other safeguarding concerns as there is no perpetrator of abuse, however, abuse cannot be ruled out as a purpose for becoming self-neglectful.

What you can do (Professionals)

The person must always be at the heart of any action to prevent further self-neglect. Consent must always be sought before action is taken – if the person concerned is able to give consent. The key aspects to assess are:

  • Physical Living Conditions
  • Mental Health
  • Financial Issues
  • Personal Living Conditions
  • Physical Health
  • Social Networks
  • Personal Endangerment
  • Danger to Others

A short 10 minute video has been created.This highlights the key issues and provides a 10 step guide on how to best provide person centered care within the legal framework:

See the Teeswide Self-Neglect and Hoarding Policy, and Self-Neglect Guidance here: Local Policies, Strategies and Procedures


What you can do (Self-Help)

  • Acknowledge and identify the problem
  • Tell people about the your problem and ask for help
  • Identify an area in your home you want to clear and work on that area consistently
  • Create a timetable and commit to it
  • Recognise what you have achieved – take before and after photographs
  • Take personal responsibility for your progress rather than wanting others to do it for you
  • Set the rules in advance for helpers, such as: Final decisions on objects
  • Bad feelings you experience letting go of something only last for a short while
  • Ask for support to take things away immediately reducing the risk to keep things
  • Be conscious of situations when you may be tempted to acquire new items
  • Plan for coping and lapse



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