Guidance for NRAA Members on Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

Who are vulnerable adults?

Many adults, because of illness or disability, are unable to protect themselves from abuse. This may be, for example, because they have a learning or physical disability, mental health need, short or long term illness, or needs related to ageing.

The Department of Health states any adult (aged 18 or over) who needs or who may need social care, healthcare or other services to maintain their independence, and who needs support to care for themselves or to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation should be considered to be a vulnerable adult. (No Secrets: DoH, 2000 )

What is abuse?

Here are some examples of abuse:

  • Physical abuse - such as hitting, pushing, shaking, over-medication or otherwise causing physical harm.
  • Sexual abuse - any sexual activity where a vulnerable adult cannot or does not give their consent.
  • Financial or material abuse - such as fraud or theft, or taking and using a person’s property without their permission.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse - such as bullying, shouting or swearing at or ignoring someone; denying their rights whether or not it causes actual distress; the use of discriminatory language in relation to their age, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
  • Neglect - is where a person suffers because someone does not fulfil his or her responsibility of care.
  • Institutional abuse - repeated poor care of individuals or groups of individuals through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

This is an extract of guidance issued by the Warwickshire Safeguarding Adults Board – November 2009

What should I do if I think someone is being abused?

If the abuse is going on at the moment and the adult is at risk of immediate harm, is there any way you can step in to stop it without risking harm to yourself? If so, do so. If not, get help if necessary, from the police.

If the person needs urgent medical attention, get immediate help from a doctor, or call an ambulance.

If you think that someone is being abused or neglected, tell someone on the same day as you are alerted to the abuse, talk to Adult Social Care (previously called Social Services), who may talk with other agencies like the Police or the Care Quality Commission. These agencies will decide what steps need to be taken to protect the person

Warwickshire Adult Social Care can be reached on 01926 41 20 80 Warwickshire Police 01926 684444 or in emergencies: 01926 415000 (or 999)

For further information on safeguarding adults and to access local policies and procedures, visit the following web page:


[ Download a pdf version of this document here Safeguarding Adults Policy ]