Safeguarding vulnerable adults

Safeguarding and protecting vulnerable adults from abuse or neglect has traditionally been seen as a major role of those working in the social care sector. Now, more than ever given recent cases that have made national news, it is becoming an issue for everyone in society, not just for those people who have a professional responsibility to safeguard. Far too many vulnerable adults suffer abuse, neglect and worse, often at the hands of relatives and carers, those who you would least expect to treat them in that way. A vulnerable adult is a person over the age of 18 who needs some support to stay independent and live in a safe environment and who may be unable to take care of themselves, or protect themselves from harm or from being exploited.

This includes adults who:
Are more vulnerable than others because they are old and frail, or have a sensory impairment, a disability, a mental health problem, or have some form of illness. This means they may have difficulty in making their wishes and feelings known and this may make them vulnerable to abuse. It may also mean that they are not able to make their own decisions or choices. A person may also be vulnerable because of a temporary illness or difficulty.

What is adult abuse?
Abuse is when somebody or some people do or say things to you or somebody else that makes you or them feel upset or frightened. It is mistreatment by somebody or some people that violates a person’s human and civil rights.It may be neglecting a person’s needs, treating somebody disrespectfully or causing physical harm. It may be an isolated incident or it may be repeated incidents. It may be that the abuse is deliberate or it may be unintentional and  due to ignorance or lack of training or understanding. It may be that a person is at risk of abuse or being abused in several ways. It can happen anywhere – in a care home or a care home with nursing, a hospital, in the workplace, at a day centre or educational establishment, in supported housing or in the street.Forms of abuse could be physical, sexual, emotional or financial or discriminatory. It could also cover the issues of neglect and institutional abuse – where the abuse affects more than one person within an organisation or a service and is not addressed by the service’s management. This can be repeated incidents of neglect or poor standards of care that are being ignored. It may be that you are not treated with the dignity and respect that you deserve.

Who might be causing the abuse?
Anyone may be an abuser. It may be somebody you know well or it may be a stranger. It may be more than one person. It might be a family member, a friend, a neighbour, a paid or voluntary carer, a nurse, a social worker, a GP, a visitor to your home, or somebody who you don’t know. If you live in a residential setting or visit a day centre, it may be another user of that service, a visitor, or a carer.

What should you do if you suspect abuse or are worried 
about abuse?
Doing nothing is not an option. North Yorkshire County Council operates a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse. All adults should be able to live their lives free from fear and harm. Your course of action will depend on the situation. If you or the person you are concerned about is in danger and immediate action is required you should ring the emergency services on 999. If you or the person you are concerned about is not in immediate danger, you should ring our Customer Services Centre on 01609 780780.

You will be able to speak to a sympathetic adviser who will listen to your concerns and take them seriously. They will offer support and direct your concerns to a specialist
worker who will arrange to meet with you. You may have a relative, friend or independent advocate present if you wish. Together you will discuss the issues and together you will agree a plan to keep you as safe and independent as possible. You will be able to have a copy of
this plan. We will agree further contact as is needed.We may involve other agencies to help support you safely, but we will agree this together. Where the abuse is a crime, the police need to be involved to prevent other people from suffering as well. We will jointly help to support you. We will listen to your concerns and take them seriously. We will treat you with dignity and respect at all times. Our main aim will be to help you to live safely whilst maintaining the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control. If the abuse is also a crime such as assault, racial harassment, rape or theft you should involve the police to prevent someone else from being abused. If the police are involved we will work with them and with you to support you. If you are worried about contacting the police you can
contact us to talk things over first.  When you suspect abuse in a residential care or nursing
home. If your concern is about someone who is in a residential or nursing home, please refer them to us, via the Customer Services Centre on 01609 780780 or for further details visit our website www.northyorks.gov.uk/safeguardingadults.  If you have concerns about the standards or application of regulations in a care home you should contact:

The Care Quality Commission
Citygate, Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4PA
Telephone: 03000 616161 Email: enquiries@cqc.org.uk.