Making Safeguarding Personal: are we there yet?

Copernican model of the solar system

Sometimes the biggest changes are in mindset, rather than systems.  In 1543, Copernicus put the Sun at the centre of the solar system instead of the Earth.  This changed nothing and everything at the same time.  The stars and planets still looked the same, but our whole way of thinking about them changed.

So it is with person-centred care.  Putting the service user’s objectives at the heart of health and social care doesn’t demand top-down reorganisation, so much as a change of mindset and culture.

In adult safeguarding, Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) means:

  • A personalised approach that enables safeguarding to be done with, not to, people
  • Practice that focuses on achieving meaningful improvement to people’s circumstances rather than just on ‘investigation’ and ‘conclusion’
  • An approach that utilises social work skills rather than just ‘putting people through a process’
  • An approach that enables practitioners, families, teams and SABs to know what difference has been made

Local Government Association 2016

This culture change has been underway for many years.  The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services commissioned a second “Temperature Check” report in 2016 to assess the current state of play.


The report authors were senior social work leaders with substantial experience in adult safeguarding.  They contacted all Local Authorities (LAs) in England, asking them to nominate a contact with responsibility for implementing MSP.  These contacts were interviewed and provided with coaching sessions by the team.

Respondents were asked to assess their organisation’s progress towards achieving MSP. They also took part in coaching sessions to help them identify priorities for taking MSP forward.

Man speaking

The researchers interviewed senior social workers with responsibility for MSP in each local authority.


76% of the LAs responded to the request to participate.  The overall findings show that substantial progress has been made in implementing MSP:

  • 6% have fully implemented it
  • 77% actively rolling out MSP
  • 17% still at the planning stage
  • 97% of councils now ask people what outcomes they want at the outset.

Coupled with the findings of the 2014 report, there has been a substantial shift forward in the past year.

MSP has tended to start within safeguarding teams, and then spread out to generic social care teams.  It is often seen as a refreshing change, and a return to “core social work values”.  Where progress has stalled, lack of resources and increased workload were often cited as limiting factors. However, there was some evidence that MSP led to a reduction in management overheads (e.g. formal meetings).

To get the full summary of results, we recommend you read the full report on the ADASS website.  The authors present a Road Map towards implementation of MSP and useful resources to help you.

Road map for Making Safeguarding Personal

The report includes a Road Map and other supporting resources for people implementing MSP.

Strengths and limitations

This study had a very high response rate – 76% of Local Authorities responded.  It is unlikely to be affected by sampling bias, unless one were to assume that all of the 24% who failed to respond are all failing to implement MSP.  The research was carried out with participants who are well-placed strategically to report on organisation-wide progress.  It seems unlikely that the research could have missed important themes with so many interviews being carried out.


This report gives an invaluable insight into a culture change in progress.  Building on previous research, it shows that positive progress is being made, and sets out concrete strategies that will help organisations further develop and embed MSP.

To find out more about the background and implications of this work, please watch our Campfire, featuring the authors of this 2016 Temperature Check, and Lindsey Pike, author of the 2014 report.


Primary reference

Cooper A, Briggs M, Lawson J, Hodson W, Wilson M.  Making Safeguarding Personal:  Temperature Check 2016. ADASS 2016.  Accessed 13th October 2016.

Other references:

Local Government Association.  Making safeguarding personal.  Accessed:  6th October 2016.

Pike L, Walsh J.  Making Safeguarding Personal 2014/15:  Evaluation report.  Local Government Association 2015.  Accessed 18th October 2016

Pike L.  What works in Making Safeguarding Personal?  Storify from “Making Safeguarding Personal: What’s Working?” 2016 conference, 2016.  Accessed 18th October 2016

Involving people in safeguarding adults: Leaders’ Briefing.  RiPfA 2016.  Accessed 18th October 2016, requires purchase.

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Douglas Badenoch

I am an information scientist with an interest in making knowledge from systematic research more accessible to people who need it. This means you. I've been attempting this in the area of Evidence-Based Health Care since 1995. So far the results have been mixed. For some reason we expected busy clinicians to search databases and appraise papers instead of seeing patients. We also expected publishers to make the research freely available to the people who paid for it.. Ha! Hence The National Elf service.

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