Recent studies on self-neglect highlight the crucial role that community members play, not just as referrers to services, but as definers of what is and is not to be tolerated in their neighbourhood. In the context of social care policy development that promotes the role of local communities in social care and positions self-neglect as a safeguarding concern, this qualitative study addresses a gap in the evidence base—that of improving understanding of public perceptions of self-neglect. Members of the public were recruited from a local further education college and a voluntary agency that involved older people as volunteers. Thirty-four people (thirty-two females and two males) took part in eight focus groups drawing on a visual and textual vignette. Overlapping themes emerging from the analysis of discussion included emotional reactions to the situation, concerns about dirt and hygiene, actions in relation to choice, impact on the neighbourhood and expectations of formal intervention. There was also evidence of highly negative and abusive standpoints, particularly amongst younger participants. A model for community intervention is proposed based on four principles: achieving agreement on the lowest living standards community members feel able to accept, co-ordinating community resources, facilitating contact and monitoring to fill resource gaps.