Who is an adult at risk?
An adult at risk is a person aged 18 or over who is in need of care and support, and because of those needs is unable to protect themselves against abuse or neglect.
- What should I do if I suspect someone is being abused?
- What is adult safeguarding?
- What is abuse?
- Where does abuse occur?
- Who can the abuser be?
- How can you tell if someone is being abused?
- How can I learn more?
If you or the person you are concerned about is not being mistreated (but you or they still have needs to address) you can make a referral to Adult Social Care via the Integrated Access Team.
If you think someone else is being abused, you must tell someone:
Call the Police
- If the danger is not immediate telephone 101
- If the danger is immediate, always call the police on 999
Contact the First Response Team (adult social services):
- Telephone: 020 8489 1400
- SMS: text IAT to 80818
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information that would be helpful:
- Why you are concerned
- The name, age and address of the adult at risk
- If anyone lives with them
- If they're getting help from any organisation
- Who may be doing the abuse
Don't delay in reporting abuse if you're not sure about some of these details.
If you wish to raise a safeguarding concern, download the Safeguarding Alert Form (Word, 46KB). If you have any trouble completing the form, please contact the First Response team by email: email@example.com and they will help you.
Safeguarding is defined as ‘protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect’ - Care and Support statutory guidance, chapter 14ii (external link). It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action.
Abuse is about the misuse of the power and control that one person has over another. In determining whether or not abuse has taken place, it is important to remember that intent is not the issue. The definition of abuse is not based on whether the perpetrator intended harm to be caused, but rather on whether harm was caused, and on the impact of the harm (or risk of harm) on the individual. The Care Act guidance defines the types of abuse as:
- Physical abuse – including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions
- Domestic violence – including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so called ‘honour’ based violence
- Sexual abuse – including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting
- Psychological abuse – including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks
- Financial or material abuse – including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits
- Modern slavery – encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. NHS England have published a new web page which outlines what modern slavery is (external link) and the impact that it has on victims.
- Discriminatory abuse – including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
- Organisational abuse – including neglect and poor care practice within an institution care setting such as a hospital or care home, or in one’s own home
- Neglect and acts of omission – including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating; and
- Self-neglect – this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding
For information on Domestic Violence, see the Domestic Violence section.
Abuse can take place in any context and can occur in the following settings:
- In your own home, living alone or with a relative
- In someone else’s house
- Nursing home
- Residential care home
- In hospital
- Day care centre
- In a custodial situation
- In other places assumed as being safe
- In public places
Vulnerable adults may be abused by a wide range of people including:
- Relatives and family members
- Professional staff
- Paid care workers
- Other service users
- Friends and associates
- People who deliberately exploit vulnerable people
Some people may not realise they are being abused. Often the person being harmed is not able to say what is happening to them. Here are some warning signs that you can look for:
- Bruises, falls and injuries
- Signs of neglect such as clothes being dirty
- Poor care either at home or in a residential or nursing home or hospital
- Changes in someone’s financial situation
- Changes in behaviour such as loss of confidence or nervousness
- Being withdrawn
Whatever the abuse or the setting, abuse is not acceptable and a violation of a person's basic human rights. Adults living in Haringey have the right to receive support and live a life free from abuse and neglect. Most people find it difficult to imagine that vulnerable adults and older people are victims of abuse. It is a hidden and often ignored problem in society. We recognise the need to protect vulnerable people from abuse.
We have attached a free safeguarding e-learning course for you to work through at your own pace. It is particularly designed for people who work within an organisation as a paid or voluntary worker but could be of interest to others too. At the end of the course there is a short test to check your understanding. Feel free to share this with others and if you are working in or for an organisation, discuss what you have learnt with your manager.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has a very useful free safeguarding e-learning section which promotes the safeguarding of adults at risk. Visit 'Life stories' to explore the stories of Hope and Darren, written especially to show key adult safeguarding issues. Use the 'Study area' and 'Resources' to learn more about the topic. Use the 'Quiz' to find out what you know.
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