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Journal cover: Journal of Adult Protection, The

Journal of Adult Protection, The

ISSN: 1466-8203

Online from: 1999

Subject Area: Health and Social Care

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Defining the “perpetrator”: abuse, neglect and dignity in care

Document Information:
Title:Defining the “perpetrator”: abuse, neglect and dignity in care
Author(s):Josie Dixon, (National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), London, UK), Simon Biggs, (King's College London, London, UK), Martin Stevens, (King's College London, London, UK), Jill Manthorpe, (King's College London, London, UK), Anthea Tinker, (King's College London, London, UK)
Citation:Josie Dixon, Simon Biggs, Martin Stevens, Jill Manthorpe, Anthea Tinker, (2013) "Defining the “perpetrator”: abuse, neglect and dignity in care", Journal of Adult Protection, The, Vol. 15 Iss: 1, pp.5 - 14
Keywords:Abuse, Care homes, Definitions, Dignity, Elder care, Elderly people, Neglect, Older people, Residential care, Residential homes, United Kingdom
Article type:Literature review
DOI:10.1108/14668201311299872 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors acknowledge and thank the wide range of people who contributed to the research, consultation and survey development activities, which formed the basis of the study upon which this paper draws and especially the staff, residents and family members of the care home where interviews were conducted. Professor Catherine Hawes and Professor Thomas Goergen kindly advised the study. The contribution of Lucy Lee to the literature review and the advice and support of Melanie Doyle and Paddy Costigan, National Centre for Social Research, are appreciated. The views and conclusions reported in this paper are the responsibility of the authors and should not be seen as necessarily reflecting the views of the Department of Health or Comic Relief, the funders of this study.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to set out and discuss findings from a developmental study, commissioned by the English Department of Health and the charity, Comic Relief, which was commissioned to clarify definitional issues and recommend ways of operationalising key concepts for a prospective survey of abuse, neglect and loss of dignity in the care of older people in residential care in the United Kingdom (UK).

Design/methodology/approach – As well as drawing upon their experience and expertise, the authors conducted a review of the literature, held consultation events with a range of stakeholders and undertook in-depth interviews with international academics and care home residents.

Findings – Existing definitions and descriptions vary widely in form and content, are commonly subjective and imprecise and frequently make reference to abstract concepts which themselves need defining. Many of the concepts are also inherently evaluative, unspecific and open to interpretation. The study considered how, in this context, practical research definitions that are clear, unambiguous and widely acceptable to a range of stakeholders could be developed.

Research limitations/implications – The study took a UK focus and the review of literature was confined to the English language. Further research might usefully extend discussion about definitions cross-culturally. The interview samples were small and should not be considered to be representative.

Originality/value – The paper identifies key issues in defining the perpetrator. It focuses on the concepts of trust and intentionality, the responsibilities of the care home and multiple perpetrators and makes practical proposals for operationalising the “perpetrator” in research. Recommendations from the study were positively received and have directly informed the Government-funded research programme in England.

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