What is abuse?

Who is an adult at risk?

“An adult at risk is someone who has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect; and as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect”
Department of Health (2014) Care Act.

An adult at risk may therefore be a person who is elderly and frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment or

  • has a learning disability,
  • has mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder,
  • has a long-term illness/condition,
  • misuses substances or alcohol,
  • has a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment,
  • is a carer such as a family member/friend who provides personal assistance and care to adults and is subject to abuse,
  • is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is in need of care and support.

This list is not exhaustive.

This does not mean a person who is old or frail or has a disability is at risk. For example, a person with a disability who has the mental capacity to make decisions about their own safety could be perfectly able to make informed choices and protect themselves from harm. In the context of Safeguarding Adults, the vulnerability of the adult at risk is related to how able they are to make and exercise their own informed choices free from duress, pressure or undue influence of any sort, and to protect themselves from abuse, neglect and exploitation. It is important to note people with capacity can also be vulnerable.

What is abuse?

There are many different types of abuse. Abuse can take many forms. It can include:

  • physical abuse - hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, misusing medication, feeding ,scalding, restraint and hair pulling, failing to provide physical care and aids to living
  • domestic abuse - including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse, and so called “honour" based violence
  • sexual abuse - rape, sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the person has not or could not have consented, or pressurising someone into sexual acts they don’t understand or feel powerless to refuse
  • psychological or emotional abuse -  such as threats of harm or abandonment, being deprived of social or any other form of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse and being prevented from receiving services or support
  • financial or material abuse - theft, fraud or exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property, or inheritance, misuse of property, possessions or benefits
  • discriminatory abuse - including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment: because of race, gender and gender identify, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
  • modern slavery – encompasses slavery, human trafficking, and forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abused, servitude and inhumane treatment.
  • organisational abuse – including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example in relation to car provided in one’s own home. This may range from one off of incidents to on-going ill- treatment it can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, polices, processes and practices within an organisation
  • neglect and acts of omission - including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs. Failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
  • self-neglect – this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding

Abuse can be the result of a single act or may continue over many months or years. Abuse can be accidental, or a deliberate act.

An abuser may be a relative, a partner, someone paid to provide care and services, a volunteer, a neighbour, a friend or stranger.

Where does abuse occur?

Abuse can happen anywhere:

  • at home,
  • in a care home,
  • in hospital,
  • in sheltered housing,
  • in supported living centres,
  • at day centres and other day services,
  • outside in a public place,
  • online.

Contact Slough adult social care services

In an emergency

  •  Emergency duty team on 01344 786543 or
  •  Call the police on 999 or non emergency 101.