Protecting Vulnerable Adults from Abuse (Safeguarding)

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
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This is a subject which comes up fairly regularly on this forum, most frequently in respect of care provided by agencies, etc., but more recently there has been some debate about what does and does not constitute appropriate treatment of older people by family carers.
I therefore thought that it might be useful to provide information and a link to the government's, and therefore local authority and NHS, definitions of vulnerable adult, abuse, etc.

The previous government's No Secrets Guidance, published in 2000, still remains the definitive guide to the protection of vulnerable adults, a consultation was held into widening the scope of the guidance and the powers available to statutory bodies contained in the No Secrets Guidance with the possibility of legislating for the protection of vulnerable adults but no further action is proposed until at least 2013 so this remains the most up-to-date statutory guidance available.

It is important to note that the guidance does not only cover older people but any person aged over 18 who meets the definition of vulnerable adult and this can include family carers who can themselves be the subject of abuse.

Who is a vulnerable adult?

Any adult aged over 18:
“who is or may be in need of community care services* by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and
who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”.
*Community care services are defined as]all care services provided in any setting or context.[/quote]

What is abuse?
Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by
any other person or persons.
The DH guidance identifies the following behaviours as abuse]• physical abuse, including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse
of medication, restraint, or inappropriate sanctions;
sexual abuse, including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to
which the vulnerable adult has not consented, or could not consent
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, isolation
or withdrawal from services or supportive networks;
financial or material 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;
neglect and acts of omission, including ignoring medical or
physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health,
social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities
of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating; and
discriminatory abuse, including racist, sexist, that based on a
person’s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar
treatment.

Any or all of these types of abuse may be perpetrated as the result of
deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance.[/quote]

Who may abuse?
Vulnerable adult(s) 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, people who deliberately exploit
vulnerable people and strangers.

The Guidance then states]Agencies not only have a responsibility to all vulnerable adults who
have been abused but may also have responsibilities in relation to some
perpetrators of abuse. The roles, powers and duties of the various
agencies in relation to the perpetrator will vary depending on
whether the latter is:

• a member of staff, proprietor or service manager;
• a member of a recognised professional group;
• a volunteer or member of a community group such as place of
worship or social club
• another service user;
• a spouse, relative or member of the person’s social network;
• a carer; ie: someone who is eligible for an assessment under the
Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1996;
• a neighbour, member of the public or stranger; or
• a person who deliberately targets vulnerable people in order to
exploit them.[/quote]

The full No Secrets Guidance with further information on who is at risk, what constitutes abuse, perpetrators and action to be taken where abuse is suspected can be found here:


http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/gro ... 074544.pdf

Further information

Local authorities and NHS trusts are required to publish information on safeguarding vulnerable adults, including who to contact with concerns about a vulnerable adult.

Action on Elder Abuse provides information and advice, their website and contact information can be found here:

http://www.elderabuse.org.uk
Hi Parsifal

I have read the above but still have some questions I would like to ask but they are quite emotional and personal. May I PM you?

Little Lamb
Of course you can but bear in mind that I am not an expert on the subject so I may not be able to help but pm anyway, if I cannot help I may know somewhere where you can find what you are looking for.
Theory and practice can be very different. From my own experience, I would say to anyone "Don't hold your breath!" I have made a series of formal complaints of finacial abuse against my son during the last five years. Despite clear evidence, those investigating lacked the required understanding of basic accounts, the area manager told me himself he was more interested in maintaining a good working relationship with the care provider concerned!! The Local Government Ombudsman is now investigating the conduct of both the care provider and the local authority.
Made this a sticky - it's an important topic.

I've been involved in a number of cases in my work at the carers centre. There's been a massive increase (double the number of cases we were involved in last year over the previous year) in cases referred and actioned. It's important to keep at it if you're ignored, write down everything and if necessary go above the person you initially make contact with.
I would say to anyone going down this route to ask the local authority to
1) Arrange an advocate for you. Initially I was told advocates were only available if my son wanted one, but not for me. I responded saying that I wasn't getting involved without one! Very quickly, they arranged for the Princess Royal Trust for Carers to support me. The advocate was initially concerned that she didn't understand the complexities of the situation, although I did. What I needed her to do was to support me, take minutes for me, and act as a witness. The latter proved to be vitally important at a later meeting, when I proved to both the advocate and the care manager that my son had been wrongly charged for travel expenses which were the responsibility of the LA. Months later I found out by chance that my son's file said completely the opposite.
2) I would also suggest that you insist on seeing the minutes of all the relevant meetings. One very important meeting was never minuted at all!
3) Just check at the start of the meeting who will be responsible for the minutes. I bought a voice recorder to protect my position, only to be told to turn it off, due to "confidentiality". The minutes were taken by a professional minute taker, but she hadn't grasped many of the issues properly - I believe that voice recording should be mandatory, my own view.
I have given details of my experiences in the hope that it makes it easier for someone else. In the last few years, I am sure that I have become the No.1 pain in the **** for my LA and the Care provider. Now I am delighted to say that the LA is in the process of completely overhauling their systems as a result of my perseverance.
Made this a sticky - it's an important topic.
Thank you, Charles.
when i worked in the local care home everybody had to do the POVA course even if we were not carers as we had to know what to look out for to protect the residents.
Absolutely and carers who come into our homes are also trained to look for evidence of abuse as are DNs and the majority of social services and NHS staff with whom we come into contact.
one of the problems that will never be solved even with a crb check,is either stopping somebody working with vunerable adults if they have never been caught or sometimes people with good intentions and no history of abusing and never dreaming that they ever will abuse anybody might crack under pressure and lash out,probably caused by lack of training,i did homecare for a while and all i can say is it was a good job i was a carer for wife and daughter because the training was c**p,talk about an abridged whistle stop guide to the pros and cons of elderly care and when you start it rush,rush,rush,quantity over quality.
79 posts