Keeping vulnerable adults in Gloucestershire safe from abuse

Who is a vulnerable adult?
A vulnerable adult is someone aged 18 or over who is or may be:
• in need of community care services because of a disability, age or illness and is
• unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation (‘No Secrets’ 2:3).

What is abuse?
Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. It can consist of a single act or repeated acts and can take the following forms:

Physical abuse – Including hitting, slapping, pushing,
kicking, misuse of medication and inappropriate restraint or control.

Emotional abuse – Including verbal abuse, humiliation, bullying or the use of threats.

Neglect – The repeated denial of help that a vulnerable adult needs which, if withdrawn, will cause them to suffer.

Sexual abuse – Direct or indirect sexual activity where the vulnerable adult cannot or does not give their consent.

Financial abuse – Including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance, or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Discrimination – Including abuse based on a person’s ethnic origin, religion, language, age, sexuality, gender or disability.

Institutional abuse – Including poor care standards, misuse of medication, inappropriate restraint, lack of privacy or personal dignity, lack of flexibility, control and choice, lack of appropriate care planning and reviews, restricting access to toilet or bathing facilities and lack of record-keeping.

Who commits abuse?
Vulnerable adults may be abused by a wide range of people including:
• relatives and family members;
• professional staff;
• paid care workers;
• volunteers;
• other service users;
• neighbours;
• friends and associates; and
• people who deliberately exploit vulnerable people and strangers.

Where does abuse happen?
Abuse can happen anywhere, for example:
• in the street;
• at home;
• at a friend’s house;
• where you work;
• at a day centre, residential home or college; or
• somewhere you spend your free time.
What are the signs of abuse?
Possible signs of abuse could include:
• injuries – bruises, broken bones and burns;
• lack of personal care;
• bills not being paid;
• sudden loss of assets, friends of family threatening an
individual to gain access to money etc;
• not getting to medical appointments;
• changes in behaviour or mood; or
• unexplained withdrawal from normal activities and friends, family or community

How can I report my suspicions of abuse?
Initially you should tell someone you can trust. This could be a:
• family member;
• friend;
• member of staff;
• social worker or nurse or an advocate.

If you or the individual is in immediate danger, need medical attention or if a crime has been committed call the emergency services on 999. If you or an adult you know may be at risk of abuse you should contact Gloucestershire County Council’s Adult Social Care Helpdesk on: 01452 426868.

‘There can be no secrets and no hiding place when it comes to exposing the abuse of vulnerable adults.’ (DoH: No Secrets) It is everyone’s responsibility to know about and report
abuse of vulnerable people.