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Abuse comes in many shapes & forms and can target adults of any age, however some adults are more vulnerable because they are unable to protect themselves.
Therefore, it is vital to have protocols in place for the protection of these adults. Everyone deserves to live a life free from abuse regardless of age or any disability. This guide provides useful information about ways in which abuse can be prevented.
What makes adults vulnerable to abuse?
Unfortunately some adults are more vulnerable to abuse than others, they may lack the basic skills to look after and protect themselves.
Normally this will include people with disabilities, those that lack mental capacity, the elderly and people with other health conditions.
Unfortunately these adults are at a higher risk of being abused. Therefore it is important to ensure safeguarding measures are put in place to provide protection to these adults.
Who is vulnerable to abuse?
Adults with support and care needs are likely to be at risk of being abused. These adults are more vulnerable because they may:
- lack mental capacity
- are elderly
- have a physical or learning disability
- live in inappropriate accommodation
- have mental health problems
- have low self esteem
- lack support
- misuse drug and alcohol
- have financial circumstances which increase their risk of being abused
- be socially isolated
Although these factors contribute to making adults more susceptible to abuse, the reality is abuse can happen to anyone, making everyone vulnerable.
How can abuse be prevented?
Abuse can be prevented when we begin to understand the factors which contribute to making an adult more vulnerable. The following is a list of ways to prevent abuse, protecting yourself, family/friends and the wider population:
- Promotion of choice and rights
- Encouragement and protection of whistle blowers
- Person-centred care
- Current & evolving safeguards in care industries being strongly upheld
- Awareness of Education around abuse
- Correct training in job roles
- Community Support
- Having the law on your side
- Removal of stigma around victims/survivors
We provide more information on each of these below.
1. Promotion of choice and rights
It is important to be working in ways in which promote the choice and rights of vulnerable adults, this helps them to make more informed choices about their care and lives.
Promoting choice and rights helps vulnerable adults to have a better understanding of what their rights are, it supports them to be more confident and assertive.
This will help reduce the risk of abuse as the adult is more likely to challenge or report poor practice. This can be encouraged by providing information in ways which the adult is able to understand.
2. Encouragement and protection of whistle blowers
Whistleblowing is a process in which an employee is able to raise a concern about malpractice, wrongdoing or risk that they have witnessed in their work place.
This plays a crucial part in safeguarding adults. It places an individual responsibility on staff to ensure vulnerable adults receive the care and support they deserve, reducing the risk of abuse.
Whistle blowers are given protection under the Public Interest and Disclosure Act 1998, encouraging people to act if they suspect abuse or when their legitimate concerns are ignored.
3. Person-centred care
By encouraging and supporting individuals to make their own decisions you are increasing their self-confidence. Similarly vulnerable adults will feel valued when they are treated with courtesy and respect.
High self-esteem and confidence will help the adult to speak up if they are have concerns surrounding their care.
Person-centred care is very important as it gives the individual power to control and choose how they are cared for, reducing the risk of abuse.
Person-centred care can be encouraged by ensuring adults are actively involved in their care planning and not just a recipient of care.
4. Current & evolving safeguards in care industries being strongly upheld
The Care Act 2014 sets out the statutory responsibilities of care and support between health and local authorities, this includes safeguarding.
The main aim of adult safeguarding under the act is to protect an adult’s right to live safely, free from abuse and neglect.
These measures include policies and procedures setting out the framework for organisations to follow when acting upon safeguarding concerns.
Local authorities are under a duty to make enquires about suspected abuse or neglect. Safeguarding in care industries is very important in reducing the risk of abuse to vulnerable adults. This can be encouraged by ensuring policies and procedures are reviewed on a regular basis and staff are clear about their roles and responsibilities.
5. Awareness of Education around abuse
One of the best ways of helping combat adult abuse is by learning as much as you can about the topic.
Educating yourself will help you to recognise signs when someone is being abused and know what to do when raising a concern.
Create awareness about this topic in your communDity and with people you know. When people are well informed about something they are equipped with the tools to deal with situations, this is particularly useful in reporting suspected abuse.
Education and awareness around this topic should be encouraged by talking about it, whether it be at home, schools or in the community. Talking is the first step in recognising a problem.
6. Correct training in job roles
It is important that the correct training is provided in job roles involving vulnerable adults. This ensures individuals understand how to deal with safeguarding issues safely and appropriately.
Vulnerable adults are at a lower risk of being abused if the staff are correctly trained on adult safety and well-being. Correct training should be encouraged by making sure good practices are recognised and individuals are appreciated for their work in preventing, identifying and responding to abuse and neglect.
7. Community Support
Everyone should take responsibility in protecting vulnerable adults from abuse, this shouldn’t be restricted to health and social care staff.
Communities should work together in creating more awareness about this issue, helping people to understand how they can play their part in preventing abuse too.
Information on what to do if you suspect abuse should be made available within the community and support services should be more accessible for victims.
8. Having the law onside
The following is a list of legislation for the safeguarding of vulnerable adults:
- Care Act 2014
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
- Health and Social Care Act 2012
- Mental Capacity Act 2005
- Equality Act 2010
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Data Protection Act 2018
- Public Interest and Disclosure Act 1998
There is a strong legal framework in the UK for the protection of vulnerable adults. This means whether it is the private or public care sector, policies and procedures will need to be compliant with the law.
This helps individuals and organisations have a clear understanding of the rights of vulnerable adults and their responsibility towards them, reducing the risk of abuse.
Regular staff training and reviewing of procedures will encourage individuals to understand the duty of care owed to vulnerable adults and the protection of their rights by law.
9. Removal of stigma around victims/survivors
Unfortunately victims of abuse are made to suffer further because of the stigma associated with abuse.
Victims are made to feel that they were in some way responsible for what happened to them. This stigma is a result of negative attitudes and misunderstandings within society. Victims are forced to deal with the trauma on their own and too scared or ashamed to talk about their experience.
The local communities need to work together to end this stigma by understanding victims cannot be blamed for the abuse, it is never their fault. Creating awareness on the likely repercussions victims have to deal with when they are unable to talk to someone will encourage people to be more supportive. This support will help victims come forward and get the help they need.
We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love, experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help is not easy. However, by educating yourself and trying to play your part in a collective responsibility to prevent abuse, you may help a vulnerable adult from being harmed.
Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.
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