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Opening the "Too Difficult Box": Strengthening Adult Safeguarding Responses to Homelessness and Self-neglect

This study is co-led by Michelle Cornes of HSCWRU and Michela Tinelli, LSE.

Also on the team: Jess Harris and Stephen Martineau of HSCWRU; James Fuller, PPIE/Peer Researcher; Bruno Ornelas, Brighter Futures/Voices of Stoke

This study explores how self-neglect is experienced by people who are homeless, and how this can be addressed through strengthening local adult safeguarding responses. Little is known about what constitutes ‘positive practice’ and the services and support that are needed to address this problem, particularly where they intersect with substance misuse and other extreme forms of deep social exclusion such as ‘rough sleeping’. Concerns have been raised by government about the adequacy of safeguarding, why there have been so few Safeguarding Adults Reviews into the deaths of people who are homeless, and whether learning from these Reviews is being implemented.

Martineau, S. (2020) 'Three early papers on self-neglect', The Journal of Adult Protection. (Blog post introducing this article)


This study will employ participatory and action orientated methods to work collaboratively with Safeguarding Adults Boards across three English local authority areas to identify positive practices and areas for improvement. Communities of Practice (CoPs) will be tested in each site as a theoretically informed approach for facilitating reflective practices and embedding a culture of learning and improvement. Finally, so that the learning from the research can be shared widely, we will develop (national) practice guidance on self-neglect and homelessness and, if the findings support this, a ‘tool kit’ for using CoPs in adult safeguarding more generally.



London School of Economics

Project status: Ongoing

Principal investigators

Michelle Cornes

Senior Research Fellow


  • Hoarding
  • Self-neglect
  • Safeguarding
  • Homelessness