Every adult should be able to live free from fear, harm and abuse, have their rights and choices respected and be treated with dignity. Vulnerable adults have these rights too but they can’t always protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation.

A vulnerable adult is any person aged 18 years or over who receives or may need community care services because he/she is or may be, unable to take care of or protect themselves because they have a mental health problem, a disability, a visual or hearing problem, are old and frail or have some form of illness.

Older people who are most at risk of abuse at home include:

  • those who are isolated and don’t have much contact with friends, family or neighbours
  • people with memory problems or difficulty communicating with others
  • people who don’t get on with their carer
  • people whose carer depends on them for a home and financial and emotional support

Other vulnerable adults include people who are open to abuse because of learning difficulties, physical disabilities or mental illness.

What Is Abuse?

In 2000, guidance on developing and implementing policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse called ‘No Secrets’ was published by the Department of Health and Home Office. The guidance defines abuse as “a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons.”

Whilst it makes difficult reading, it is important to understand those actions which constitute ‘abuse’.

      • Abuse may be a single act or the systematic ill-treatment of vulnerable adults which may be intentional or unintentional but will result in harm to the vulnerable adult. It can be financial, material, physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, psychological and discriminatory.
      • Abuse may be an act or omission to act, or it may occur when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a non-consensual financial or sexual arrangement or transaction.
      • Abuse can occur in any relationship; family, friends, neighbours, informal carers, paid-for carers, strangers and anyone who has power over a vulnerable adult person at a particular point in time.

Vulnerable people should be able to choose how to live their lives independently, and receive support from those around them to help them to do so. We are committed to supporting and assisting not only vulnerable adult(s), but also those who have identified the abuse and want to do something about it.

We can help by dealing with the Police, the Local Authority, health care workers and local independent and voluntary sector organisations to improve and develop further services to keep vulnerable adults safe.

If you’re worried that someone you know is vulnerable and may be being abused, let us help you help them.


click the Infodocs below to download:

infodoc Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults


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