Exploring boundary attitude

Peter Bates, Mark Lymbery, Eric Emerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose - There have been increased concerns about disciplinary procedures in relation to adult safeguarding. The purpose of this paper is to argue that the personal 'boundary attitude' of workers is a strong component of their response to issues that have a safeguarding dimension. Design/methodology/ approach - This study reports an analysis of questionnaire responses and data generated from interactive training events. Findings - The data suggest most workers adopt a personal stance or 'boundary attitude' that drives their response to many of the diverse circumstances they face at the interface of their professional and personal life. Research limitations/implications - The particular profession, stage in career development or work environment may affect staff responses and this needs further exploration. Practical implications - There are implications for how services identify the most effective workers and their least effective colleagues, as well as for staff selection and training. Improving our understanding of boundary attitude will help to protect vulnerable people from abuse whilst supporting them to have a full life. Social implications - A better understanding of whether staff who maintain rigid boundaries deliver better outcomes than their colleagues who exercise substantial flexibility will help in recruitment, supervision and safeguarding activities. Originality/value - The paper explores an under-recognised issue in adult safeguarding, the personal 'boundary attitudes' of staff, and their impact on judgements that affect a range of professional decisions they take.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-36
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adult Protection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult protection
  • Boundaries
  • Discipline
  • Mental health
  • Professionalism
  • Safeguarding
  • Social services


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