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What is abuse?

There are many different types of abuse and they all result in behaviour towards a person that deliberately or intentionally cause harm.

It is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights and in the worst cases can result in death.

Victims may suffer severe neglect, injury, distress and/or depression and people without capacity, such as those people with severe dementia, are particularly vulnerable.

There is additional legal protection for such people under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 - For further information please refer to the Useful Links section.

Cases of abuse can result in criminal prosecution and action being taken by the courts.

Who are 'Adults at Risk of harm'?

The safeguarding duties apply to an adult who:

  • is 18 and over

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs)

  • is experiencing, or at risk of harm of, abuse or neglect and as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of harm of, or experience of abuse or neglect.

Who may have Care and Support Needs?

this may be a person who:

  • is elderley and frail due to ill health, physical disabiltiy or cognitive impairment

  • has a learning disability and or a sensory impairment

  • has mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder

  • has a long term illness/condition

  • misuses substances or alchohol

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What is the definition of abuse?

Whilst neither the Care Act of 2015 nor its statutory guidance specifically defines abuse, it does state that professionals should not limit their view of what constitutes abuse or neglect as it can take many forms and the circumstances of the individual case should always be considered.

The Care Act statutory guidance goes on to provide a detailed definition of each of the ten types of abuse which is listed below.  Further to this, the guidance highlights that incidents of abuse may be one-off or multiple, and affect one person or more.  Therefore professional should look beyond single incidents or individuals to identify patterns of harm.

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Why might a person be vulnerable?

There are many factors that could increase the risk of abuse.  Some of these are listed below:

  • People dependant on others for assistance, especially with finances and personal care
  • Mental incapacity, communication difficulties, decreased mobility
  • Those without visitors
  • Those subjected to hate crimes
  • People having care in their own homes
  • Not knowing where to turn to for help
  • People might also think that the standard of care they are receiving is all they can expect. 

Everyone is a potential victim of crime or abuse but the following conditions can increase that vulnerability:

  • a learning disability
  • mental health issues
  • a physical or sensory impairment
  • is frail or an older person.

Abuse of Adults at Risk does not have to be deliberate, malicious or planned. It sometimes happens when people are trying to do their best but do not know the right thing to do.  Sometimes the person who causes harm does so because of frustration even in the caring context.

However, irrespective of why the abuse might happen, any abuse of a Adult at Risk is harmful.  This makes it vitally important to ensure that those involved with the care and wellbeing of Adults at Risk have a clear sense of what signifies abuse and what must happen should abuse be suspected or discovered.

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The ten types of abuse

The types of abuse have been categorised and placed under ten headings, you will find that on occasions the actual behaviour you might observe or be told about could fit under more than one heading, do not worry about this, others will make a decision later in the process as to the most appropriate category under which to record the event. The seven categories are:

Use the links below to navigate to the required area of the website where the types of abuse are detailed:

 

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Where does abuse occur?

Abuse can occur anywhere and is not confined to any one setting. Just because there are no records of abuse having occurred does not mean it has not happened or is happing now.  It is important to remain alert for the signs at all times, for example abuse can occur:

  • In a nursing, residential or day care setting
  • In a persons' own home
  • In another place previously assumed safe for example; prison
  • In a hospital or public place
  • In education, training or a work place setting

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