Adopting a Trauma Informed approach to Safeguarding Adults

Trauma-informed practice develops from the understanding of how trauma exposure can affect our neurological, biological, psychological and social development.

Trauma-informed approaches are founded on the understanding and acceptance that symptoms and experiences related to trauma are coping strategies established by people to manage traumatic experiences.

Trauma-informed practice seeks to avoid re-traumatisation by using the principles of safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, empowerment and cultural consideration.  There is a natural crossover with this approach from the principles of adult safeguarding, which are empowerment, prevention, proportionality, protection, partnership and accountability.

As well as more broadly, the approaches and practice outlined in Making Safeguarding Personal (ADASS, 2014). To understand trauma-informed practice, practitioners must recognise that the effects of trauma affect individuals, groups and communities.

In November 2022, The Office of Health Improvement and Disparities created a working definition of trauma-informed practice.


Realise that trauma can affect individuals, groups and communities

Trauma-informed practice is an approach which is grounded in the understanding that trauma exposure can impact an individual’s neurological, biological, psychological and social development.


Recognise the signs, symptoms and widespread impact of trauma

Trauma-informed practice aims to increase practitioners’ awareness of how trauma can negatively impact on individuals and communities, and their ability to feel safe or develop trusting relationships with services and staff.

It aims to improve the accessibility and quality of services by creating culturally sensitive, safe services that people trust and want to use. It seeks to prepare practitioners to work in collaboration and partnership with people and empower them to make choices about their health and wellbeing.

Trauma-informed practice acknowledges the need to see beyond an individual’s presenting behaviours and to ask, ‘What does this person need?’ or ‘what has happened to this person?’ rather than ‘What is wrong with this person?’.


Prevent re-traumatisation

It seeks to avoid re-traumatisation which is the re-experiencing of thoughts, feelings or sensations experienced at the time of a traumatic event or circumstance in a person’s past. Re-traumatisation is generally triggered by reminders of previous trauma which may or may not be potentially traumatic in themselves.

The purpose of trauma-informed practice is not to treat trauma-related difficulties, which is the role of trauma-specialist services and practitioners. Instead, it seeks to address the barriers that people affected by trauma can experience when accessing health and care services.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and behaviour. ACEs include being physically, emotionally or sexually abused as a child and growing up in a house with domestic violence, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse or criminal problems. Children who have abusive or otherwise stress-filled childhoods are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health and social problems throughout their adult life.

Practitioner Guide to Trauma Informed Practice (

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

What is trauma? – Mind

This is a bite-sized session to give health and care professionals an overview of vulnerabilities across the life course – including key evidence, data and signposting to trusted resources to help prevent illness, protect health and promote wellbeing.  NHSE elfh Hub (


Opening Doors: Trauma Informed Practice for the Workforce

This animation was developed by NHS Education for Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government. It aims to support workers to know how to adapt the way they work to make a positive difference to people affected by trauma and adversity.

Opening Doors: Trauma Informed Practice for the Workforce on Vimeo


My Support Space

My Support Space is an online resource designed by the independent charity Victim Support to help you manage the impact that crime has had on you.

My Support Space MOJ


Trauma Informed Practices – Adopting a Family Approach Short Guide

A short guide to Trauma Informed Practices developed in partnership with the four local Safeguarding Adults Board and Safeguarding Children Partnerships.

Short Guide Series – Trauma Informed Practice ACES