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Through the lens afforded by two theories drawn from the discipline of social psychology, the purpose of this paper is to explain the evident continuing abuse of adults at risk living in care homes by the staff who should be looking after them.Design/methodology/approachBy considering existing theories and research into the reasons why vulnerable adults are abused the paper proposes the relevance of other extant theories on the degradation of moral restraint and dehumanisation of victims, and on the social psychology of intergroup relations, to the perpetration of abuse.FindingsThe paper demonstrates how theories that explain the psychology of human behaviour in certain circumstances may be usefully applied to the inveterate social problem of the abuse of vulnerable adults living in care homes.Practical implicationsThe paper offers the opportunity for the reader to consider how these theories of social psychology may be applied to explain and guide remedies to the persistent levels of abuse in English care homes, abuse that continues despite government oversight of care provided to adults who may be at risk by virtue of the activities of the statutory regulator and health and social care commissioners, and the interventions of safeguarding personnel.Originality/valueThis is a conceptual paper from which future research and theorising may arise to better understand the most fundamental causes of the abuse of older people in care homes in order to develop feasible and effective measures to overcome it.
The Journal of Adult Protection – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 17, 2019
Keywords: Preventing abuse; Abuse of older people; Abuse of older people in care homes; Developing theory of abuse; Social psychology of abuse; Theories of abuse
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