Safeguarding People Living with Dementia: How Social Workers Can Use Supported Decision-making Strategies to Support the Human Rights of Individuals during Adult Safeguarding Enquiries.

Jeremy Dixon, Sarah Donnelly, Jim Campbell, Judy Laing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dementia may make adults more susceptible to abuse and neglect and such mistreatment is recognised as a human rights violation. This paper focusses on how the rights of people living with dementia might be protected through the use of supported decision-making within safeguarding work. The paper begins by reviewing the aims and scope of adult safeguarding services. It then describes how the concept of ‘legal capacity’ is set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and how this differs from the concept of ‘mental capacity’ in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). Focussing on practice in England, it is argued that tensions between the CRPD and domestic law exist, but these can be brought into closer alignment by finding ways to maximise supported decision-making within existing legal and policy frameworks. The paper concludes with suggested practice strategies which involve: 1) providing clear and accessible information about safeguarding; 2) thinking about the location of safeguarding meetings; 3) building relationships with people living with dementia; 4) using flexible timescales; 5) tailoring information to meet the needs of people living with dementia; and 5) respecting the person’s will and preferences in emergency situations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Publication statusAcceptance date - 10 May 2021


  • adult protection
  • capacity
  • CRPD
  • human rights
  • safeguarding
  • Supported decision-making

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