Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human or civil rights by another person or people. It is the result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance
Vulnerable adults are adults over the age of 18 years who are unable to protect themselves against abuse or neglect as a result of their care and support needs. They may be certain older people, people with learning disabilities, people with physical disabilities, people with mental health needs or those with a short or long term illness
Examples of abuse
The Care Act 2014 sets out the following areas which are recognised forms of abuse:
Physical abuse: this includes hitting, slapping, pushing, shaking, kicking, misuse of medication, chemical restraint.
Domestic violence – this includes psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so called ‘honour’ based violence
Sexual abuse: this includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not, or could not, consent and/or was pressured into consenting
Psychological abuse: this includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, verbal or racial abuse, or isolation from others
Neglect: this includes 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
Financial or material abuse: this includes theft, fraud, internet scamming, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions; or the misuse of property, possessions or benefits
Modern slavery: this includes human trafficking, forced labour & domestic servitude
Discriminatory abuse: this includes harassment, slurs or similar treatment: because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
Institutional abuse: this is repeated instances of poor care of individuals or groups of individuals. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of structures, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.
What might you see?
Multiple bruising or finger marks, a history of unexplained minor falls or injuries, injuries not consistent with explanations, deterioration of health for no apparent reason, loss of weight, inappropriate or soiled clothing, withdrawal/mood changes, carer or person in a position of power to the victim being unwilling to allow access to the victim, the victim is unwilling to be alone with the particular carer/ person in a position of power, unexplained shortage of money
What to do about it
Take immediate actions to safeguard anyone at immediate risk of harm.
If a crime is in progress or there is a medical emergency: phone 999
Phone NHS 111 for urgent medical help/ advice if it’s not a life threatening situation
If there are others with care and support needs at risk of harm, take appropriate steps to safeguard them too
If something seems not right, wherever it is safe to do so, speak to the victim alone & ask an open ended question such as “What’s been happening?” “What’s going on?”
Do listen carefully to what the person is saying. Accept what is said.
Do not ask questions or go into detail about the abuse or suspicion of abuse
If the person has special communication needs, provide support and information (if there is time) in a way that is most appropriate to them e.g. via an interpreter
If you have seen an injury, don’t look for further injuries
Don’t take photographs – they don’t stand up in the Crown Prosecution Service unless taken with a special camera e.g. police camera
Do not speak with the alleged perpetrator about what has happened
Do not be judgemental or jump to conclusions.
Reassure the victim that they will be involved in decisions about what will happen.
Do ask the victim what they want done about it (so long as they have capacity to make an informed decision – otherwise the decision will be made in best interests)
Explain that you have to tell the BRWR Designated Safeguarding lead or deputy/s about what you have been told and/or what you have seen
Check out how the victim feels about involving the Police, Adult Social Care and/or other agencies.
Preserve any physical evidence if a crime has been committed (physical or sexual assault) – do not clean up and leave things as they are.
As soon as possible, write an accurate record of the allegations or grounds for suspecting abuse. Write down exactly what you are told or what you saw, where it was said/seen, when it was said/seen, and what is said to be in the victim’s own words if possible. Record clearly what you said and what you did, and exactly when.
As soon as possible, phone the Designated Safeguarding Lead or deputy/s. If you are not able to contact them straight away, phone Adult Social Care or the police and report your concerns direct to them
Adult Social Care – tel: 01905 768053 (Access Centre) or 01905 768053 (Adult Safeguarding Team)
Worcestershire Police tel: 101- to report physical, sexual or financial abuse or raise a concern about a crime, or if a crime is in progress dial emergency 999
For further information and to find out what happens when abuse is reported:
Safeguarding children involves:
Protecting children from maltreatment, preventing impairment of children’s health or development, ensuring children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care. And remember that what is fine in another country may not be appropriate here and could be viewed as neglect or significant harm. BRWR befrienders must never be alone with a child.
If you are worried about a child and think that he or she may be a victim of, or at risk from neglect, abuse or cruelty, phone the BRWR Designated Safeguarding lead or deputy/s tel: ………….
Otherwise phone Worcestershire Children’s Services – 01905 822666 or 01905 768020 (evenings, weekends, bank holidays).
Web link to Children’s Social Care in Worcestershire:
E-mail social firstname.lastname@example.org