Toggle Contrast
Leave this site

Making Safeguarding Personal

Throughout an enquiry, you should keep the ‘adult at risk of abuse or neglect’ (hereon referred to as ‘the adult’) central to the decision making. This approach is called Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP).

It means you speak to the adult to find out:

  • how they feel.
  • what they want to see happen (also called desired outcomes).
  • the best way to keep them safe and make their life better.

No decision about me, without me – how to put MSP in to practice?

You should have conversations with the adult at the earliest opportunity so that their views, wishes, feelings, and beliefs are central in decisions about how to proceed with the safeguarding process.

Asking questions such as “What do you want to see happen?” or “What is important to you?”  are a helpful starting point. An adult may be unable to make decisions about their lives unless they know what the options are and what the implications of those options might be. Therefore, the MSP approach is needed at every stage of an enquiry.

Typical examples of outcomes from various adult safeguarding enquiries include:

  • To feel safer.
  • To not have further contact with the alleged person/care provider.
  • To change an aspect of their care plan.
  • To be informed about the enquiry findings.
  • To know where to get help.
  • To receive an apology.
  • To have access to criminal justice.
  • To be assured that it won’t happen to them again or to anyone else.
  • For the Office of the Public Guardian to investigate and provide an evidence-based outcome,
  • For the person who has abused/neglected them to be reported to the relevant professional registration body and so on.

In some instances, an adult may express they do not have a desired outcome because they are satisfied with their care situation and have no concerns.

How to embed MSP in adult safeguarding work?

Listen: Listening to the adult helps you identify if they:

  • have any communication needs and how best to meet them.
  • have any cultural needs that need to be considered in the safeguarding work.
  • understand what abuse or neglect is and if not how to address it.
  • understand what a safeguarding enquiry is and if not how to explain it.
  • need advocacy support and if yes whether this is present in the form of family/friends/Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

Listening will help you know what the adult (or their representative) wishes to achieve from the safeguarding enquiry process.

Give time and support: If an adult is unclear as to what they would like to see happen, give them time and support to help them express their views and wishes.

Have an open discussion: If an adult wants outcomes which are not possible, consider having an open and honest discussion about reasons why certain actions may not be realistic. This may help the adult to re-evaluate their views and consider other options.

Be flexible: An adult may change their desired outcomes as the enquiry progresses and this could be because they become more aware of their options and feel more empowered to take control of their situation. The safeguarding work you do will need to be creative and flexible to take account of these differences.

Take positive risks: You need to be aware that whilst most adults would want to be safer, other outcomes may be as, or more important, such as maintaining relationships that could be seen as ‘risky’. For example, an adult may choose to continue a relationship that causes them fear and emotional distress because it outweighs the unhappiness of not maintaining the relationship. Positive risk taking is about striking a balance between keeping an adult safe and letting them make choices and decisions that may come across as ‘risky’ or ‘unwise but are important to them for their well-being.

NB. If an adult is making seemingly ‘risky’ or ‘unwise’ decisions, it would be important for adult social care to complete a mental capacity assessment. It is to be noted that Principle three of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 states that a person should not be treated as lacking mental capacity merely because they appear to be making an ‘unwise decision’.

Consider Independent Advocacy: An independent advocate will be needed if an adult either experiences ‘substantial difficulty’ or lacks the mental capacity to make a decision about the safeguarding process and if they have no family or friends who could support them. Adult Social Care teams would need to make a referral to the advocacy services so that an adult is supported in an appropriate manner to have their voice heard in the safeguarding enquiry.

For more about advocacy referrals:

Make a referral | POhWER

Refer a Client in Surrey | Matrix SDT

Additional Resources

LGA & ADASS Making Safeguarding Personal Toolkit

Practical examples of Making Safeguarding Personal from commissioners and providers of health and social care (

The MSP toolkit is a web-based resource that includes narrative around specific areas of practice, tools and practical examples to support learning and development.

Making Safeguarding Personal videos

Making safeguarding personal videos | Local Government Association

These Making Safeguarding Personal videos are tools for practitioners, trainers and anyone else to use to promote a person centred, outcome focused and strength-based approach to safeguarding adults

Case Studies

This document has case studies that illustrate outcome focused practice in safeguarding adults in line with the Making Safeguarding Personal approach. They are from nine council areas who put forward case studies.

Myths and Realities

The document addresses misconceptions about Making Safeguarding Personal.


Stream Research in Practice | Listen to Busting myths that surround Making Safeguarding Personal playlist online for free on SoundCloud

This consists of eleven episodes exploring and busting the myths that can prevent practitioners from making safeguarding personal for service users. Podcast hosts, Esi Hardy and Michael Preston-Shoot, have combined practitioner experience and service user experience to make sense of what it means to make safeguarding personal for every service user.