- The purpose of this policy is to outline the duty and responsibility of staff, volunteers and trustees working on behalf of the organisation in relation to Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults.
- All adults have the right to be safe from harm and must be able to live free from fear of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
- “Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or person’s” – Kent and Medway Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults (2010)
- To explain the responsibilities the organisation and its staff, volunteers and trustees have in respect of vulnerable adult protection.
- To provide staff with an overview of vulnerable adult protection
- To provide a clear procedure that will be implemented where vulnerable adult protection issues arise.
- For the purpose of this policy ‘adult’ means a person aged 18 years or over.
- What do we mean by abuse?
- Abuse of a vulnerable adult may consist of a single act or repeated acts.
- It may occur as a result of a failure to undertake action or appropriate care tasks.
- It may be an act of neglect or an omission to act.
- It may occur where a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a financial or sexual transaction to which they have not, or cannot, consent.
- Abuse can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the individual.
- Concerns about abuse may be raised and reported to the social services agency as a result of a single incident or repeated incidents of abuse. However, for some clients the issues of abuse relate to neglect and poor standards of care. They are ongoing and if ignored may result in a severe deterioration in both physical and mental health and even death.
- Anyone who has concerns about poor care standards and neglect in a care setting may raise these with the regulatory body and/or with the social services agency.
- Where these concerns relate to a vulnerable adult living in their own home, with family or with informal carers they must be reported to the social services agency. These reports must be addressed through the adult protection process and a risk assessment must be undertaken to determine an appropriate response to reduce or remove the risk.
Who is included under the heading ‘vulnerable adult?’
- An Adult (a person aged 18 or over) 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’.
- This could include people with learning disabilities, mental health problems, older people and people with a physical disability or impairment. It is important to include people whose condition and subsequent vulnerability fluctuates. It may include an individual who may be vulnerable as a consequence of their role as a carer in relation to any of the above.
- It may also include victims of domestic abuse, hate crime and anti-social abuse behaviour. The persons’ need for additional support to protect themselves may be increased when complicated by additional factors, such as, physical frailty or chronic illness, sensory impairment, challenging behaviour, drug or alcohol problems, social or emotional problems, poverty or homelessness.
- Many vulnerable adults may not realise that they are being abused. For instance an elderly person, accepting that they are dependent on their family, may feel that they must tolerate losing control of their finances or their physical environment. They may be reluctant to assert themselves for fear of upsetting their carers or making the situation worse.
- It is important to consider the meaning of ‘Significant Harm’. The Law Commission, in its consultation document ‘Who Decides,’ issued in Dec 1997 suggested that; ‘harm’ must be taken to include not only ill treatment (including sexual abuse and forms of ill treatment which are not physical), but also ‘the impairment of, or an avoidable deterioration in, physical or mental health; and the impairment of physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development’.
The role of staff, volunteers and trustees
- All staff, volunteers and trustees working on behalf of Scrappies have a duty to promote the welfare and safety of vulnerable adults.
- Staff, volunteers and trustees may receive disclosures of abuse and observe vulnerable adults who are at risk. This policy will enable staff/volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific adult protection issues.
Procedure in the event of a disclosure
- It is important that vulnerable adults are protected from abuse. All complaints, allegations or suspicions must be taken seriously.
- This procedure must be followed whenever an allegation of abuse is made or when there is a suspicion that a vulnerable adult has been abused.
- Promises of confidentiality must not be given as this may conflict with the need to ensure the safety and welfare of the individual.
- A full record shall be made as soon as possible of the nature of the allegation and any other relevant information. This must include information in relation to:
- the date, time and place where the alleged abuse happened,
- your name and the names of others present,
- the name of the complainant and, where different, the name of the adult who has allegedly been abused,
- the nature of the alleged abuse,
- a description of any injuries observed,
- the account which has been given of the allegation.
Consulting about your concern
- The purpose of consultation is to discuss your concerns in relation to a vulnerable adult and decide what action is necessary.
- It is good practice to ask why a person is upset or how a cut or bruise was caused, or respond to someone wanting to talk to you. This practice can help clarify vague concerns and result in appropriate action.
- If you are concerned you must share your concerns. Initially you should talk to someone within your organisation.
- If someone within the organisation is implicated in the concerns, you should discuss them directly with Social Services.
- You should consult externally with your local Social Services Department in the following circumstances:
- When you remain unsure after internal consultation as to whether protection concerns exist
- When there is disagreement as to whether protection concerns exist
- When you are unable to consult promptly or at all with your designated internal contacts.
- When the concerns relate to any member of the management committee.
- The organisation should ensure that any records made in relation to a referral should be kept confidentially and in a secure place.
- Information in relation to adult protection concerns should be shared on a “need to know” basis. However, the sharing of information is vital to vulnerable adult protection and, therefore, the issue of confidentiality is secondary to an adult’s need for protection.
- If in doubt, consult.