One Death is Too Many

Earlier this month the Office for National Statistics reported that there were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales in 2018 (a 22% increase on 2017). While the mean age at death among the general population was 76 for men and 81 for women, among people who were homeless it was 45 and 43 for men and women respectively.

In the light of figures such as these, one response has been to question how well people who are homeless are being served by agencies with responsibility to safeguard adults from abuse and neglect, including self-neglect. Among others, the Mayor of LondonSt Mungo’s, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the government itself, in its Rough Sleeping Strategy (2018), have highlighted the potential relevance of adult safeguarding to this group.

The Local Government Association is presently conducting a series of workshops (led by Adi Cooper and Michael Preston-Shoot) exploring the interface between safeguarding and homelessness. At the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, we were commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care to analyse safeguarding adults reviews where homelessness was a factor to inform such debates and initiatives and our work is informing these workshops.

Safeguarding adults reviews (SARs), the successors to adult serious case reviews, are conducted in order to learn lessons where there is evidence that agencies have not worked well together in discharging their responsibilities toward those who, it is thought, have suffered abuse or neglect.