We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Research Directory

Keeping safe and feeling secure

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


Growing concerns about the abuse of older adults across the UK have led to the codification of policy and procedures for responding to ‘adult abuse’. No Secrets (DH, 2000) and Safeguarding Adults (ADSS, 2005) represent formal responses to what is conceptualised to be a largely covert set of activities whether in public settings such as hospitals, nursing or residential homes or in the private domestic sphere of people’s own homes. Less public attention has been paid to strategies for preventing the abuse of older adults (Slater, 2001) although government policy paradigms of social inclusion and legislative frameworks of human rights provide a clear basis for promoting social inclusion and protection from inhuman treatment.

This paradoxical approach to public policy reflects a lack of attention to older people’s agency and the potential of empowering interventions to support older people to keep safe and feel secure.


To explore the possibilities for, and limits to, older people’s agency in keeping safe and feeling secure and, more specifically to:

• explore perceptions of, and concerns about, the potential for abuse of older adults in different circumstances.
• seek older people’s views and ideas for the prevention of, and protection from, abuse.
• explore the relationship between older people’s action and perceived degree of control over the social care services they receive, in order to identify older people’s own roles in the prevention of and self protection from abuse.


Participatory methods, chosen by a ‘naturally occurring group’ of older women who attend a voluntary sector community centre day service, are being used to explore the questions outlined above.


Due in autumn 2009


From the Department of Sociology

Related links