Safeguarding vulnerable adults

Below is some information about what to do and who to contact if you or someone you know is vulnerable and being abused.

Who is a vulnerable adult?
A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 years or over who may be unable to take care of themselves, or protect themselves from harm or from being exploited. This may be because they have a mental health problem, a disability, a sensory impairment, are old and frail, or have some form of illness.

What do we mean by abuse?
Abuse is a violation of a person’s human rights or dignity by someone else. There are many kinds of abuse; some are listed below:

  • physical - including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, restraint or inappropriate sanctions
  • sexual - including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented, could not consent or was pressured into consenting
  • psychological - 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 - including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits
  • neglect or acts of omission - including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health care, social care, education services or misuse of medication, adequate nutrition or heating
  • discriminatory - including racist, sexist behaviour and harassment based on a person’s ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation, age or disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment
  • institutional abuse - this can sometimes happen in residential homes, nursing homes or hospitals when people are mistreated because of poor or inadequate care, neglect and poor practice that affects the whole of that service.

Any of these forms of abuse can be either deliberate or be the result of ignorance, or lack of training, knowledge or understanding. Often if a person is being abused in one way they are also being abused in other ways.

Who may be an abuser?
The person who is responsible for the abuse is often well known to the person abused and could be -

  • relatives and family members
  • professional staff
  • paid care workers
  • volunteers
  • other service users
  • neighbours
  • friends and associates, and strangers

What are the signs?
Some of the signs to look for are -

  • multiple bruising or fingermarks
  • injuries the person cannot give a good reason for deterioration of health for no apparent reason
  • loss of weight
  • inappropriate or inadequate clothing
  • withdrawal or mood changes
  • a carer who is unwilling to allow access to the person
  • an individual who is unwilling to be alone with a particular carer unexplained shortage of money

Who should you contact if you are worried?
For general advice or if you are unsure who to call please contact the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Manager on 020 8356 5782. If  you are being abused or you suspect that someone you know may be the victim of abuse visit the Hackney Council website where you will find contact numbers and more information.

Hackney Council Adult Safeguarding Telephone Numbers
020 8356 5782 ( Monday-Friday)
020 8356 2300 (out of hours)