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Are you a frontline practitioner? We would like to know your thoughts on how COVID-19 has impacted adult safeguarding and social care activity. Please click here if you would like to take part in our survey.

Exploring the impact that COVID-19 has had on adult safeguarding and social care.

Please click here to read the full article on the research in practice website.

How creativity has been key for social workers in safeguarding adults during COVID.

Please click HERE to read the full article on the research in practice website.

Adult Social Care and Safeguarding During COVID-19: A Large Scale Mixed
Methods Study.

Project Aims

This national project, funded by The Health Foundation, will look at the impact COVID-19 has had on adult safeguarding practice, primarily through the lens of social care, as well as Safeguarding Adults Boards. The primary focus is therefore how adult safeguarding practice has changed throughout the pandemic, and whether changes to any of the key legal obligations in adult social care has affected safeguarding practice. In addition to this, the project will also investigate how practitioners have adapted and modified their adult safeguarding work in light of the different aspects of the pandemic, and what has helped them adapt. In light of this, we are looking to investigate the following areas in more detail:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the legal obligations incumbent on professionals engaged in delivering adult social care and safeguarding.​
  • The impact of COVID-19 on putting those obligations into practice in order to safeguard adults at risk of abuse and/or neglect.​
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the practice of adult safeguarding through the operation of Safeguarding Adults Boards.​
  • Identifying strengths and strategies practitioners drew upon in responding to these changes.​
  • Levels of preparedness across social care organisations, and how this affected the impact COVID-19 had on their safeguarding practice and strategy.

Who can participate in this research project?

We are looking to recruit a range of social care professionals, and/or Safeguarding Adults Boards, to participate in this study. We would be particularly keen to hear from:

  • Social care practitioners (e.g. social workers, social care nurses etc.) with any responsibility for adult safeguarding activity, or
  • Social care practitioners with a role that is specifically adult safeguarding-focussed (e.g. adult safeguarding lead), or
  • Senior stakeholders, or those with strategic responsibility for adult safeguarding either in social care, or through their role as Director or Deputy Director of Social Care, or Chair or Manager of a Safeguarding Adults Board.

Why Adult Social Care and Safeguarding?

While there is an increasing drive to understand the effects of COVID-19 within healthcare, there has been limited research into COVID-19 in the context of adult social care, and particularly adult safeguarding. A recent survey by the British Association of Social Workers found that many local authorities were underprepared and faced a shortage of resources, could not meet their legal obligations, and reported unsafe working conditions during the initial phases of the pandemic. Moreover, the Coronavirus Act 2020 included scope for suspension of key duties such as assessing and meeting needs under adult social care legislation. In some spheres, this resulted in concerns about the impact of these easements on the safety of individuals with needs for care and support. The lockdowns that accompanied the pandemic and the consequent restrictions on movement have also generated adult safeguarding concerns, in particular around the prevalence of domestic violence, and safeguarding in care homes.

This project is the first in-depth research into the relationship between COVID-19 and adult social care and safeguarding. It will focus on services across local authorities and Safeguarding Adults Boards in England and Wales. The research will provide a better understanding of what changes are happening to the legal obligations and practice of adult social care and adult safeguarding as a result of COVID-19. The findings will also be used as evidence as to how best to support the delivery of social care, social work and safeguarding in the future, for the duration of the pandemic and beyond.


This project is part of the Health Foundation’s programme to understand the impact of COVID-19 on service change and health inequalities. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. Our aim is a healthier population, supported by high quality health care that can be equitably accessed. From giving grants to those working at the front line to carrying out research and policy analysis, we shine a light on how to make successful change happen. We use what we know works on the ground to
inform effective policymaking and vice versa. We believe good health and health care are key to a flourishing society. Through sharing what we learn, collaborating with others and building people’s skills and knowledge, we aim to make a difference and contribute to a healthier population.

More information about The Health Foundation is available on their website.