Ethics & Decision Making


Paper 10: Perceptions and Views of Self Neglect: A Client-Centred Perspective

Mary Rose Day, College Lecturer, University College Cork, Ireland

Introduction: Ageing populations and chronic illness increases vulnerability of older people for self-neglect. It is characterised by an inability to meet one's own basic needs and is an increasingly common problem which can be intentional or unintentional. A large number of referrals received by Adult Protection Services in Ireland are categorised as self-neglect. Self-neglect is a serious public health issue yet many adults who self-neglect are found to be indifferent to their situation. This study explored and described self-neglecting older adult's views and perceptions of self-neglect.

Methods: An exploratory descriptive research design was used. A purposive sample of eight older adults participated in guided interviews which were tape recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed. Home environments were also observed.

Results: The complexity and diversity of circumstances in which people lived their lives will be portrayed and in this presentation 4 exemplar case studies will be presented. In addition the major themes that emerged will be presented: identity and sense of self; environmental issues; relationships with community, family and services.

Conclusion: Self-neglect is a complex multidimensional phenomenon that is poorly understood from the older adult's perspective. This study provided insight into the lives and perspectives of self-neglecting older adults. Significant and ongoing challenges pertain to promoting the right to self-determination of self-neglecting older adults while protecting values, beliefs, safety and autonomy. Building and promoting relationships with the individuals is key to gaining further insights in self-neglecting older people life story.