In recent years there has been publicity about adult abuse. Many more people are aware that vulnerable adults may be at risk of abuse and want to do something about it.
Local authorities, police, the health service and the Care & Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) now work together to try and prevent abuse occurring and stopping it when it does happen.
This page gives information on those adults at risk and the types of abuse they face. It provides guidance on which people could be abusers. It also gives contact points for further help and advice if you are being abused or are concerned that someone you know may be at risk.
Who is a vulnerable adult?
Many people associate adult abuse with frail, older people. Older people may sometimes be vulnerable, but a vulnerable adult can be anyone over the age of 18 who has a physical or sensory disability, or a learning difficulty or a mental health problem, and who may be unable to protect themselves from abuse or harm.
What is abuse?
Abuse is any behaviour towards a person that causes him or her harm, endangers life or violates their rights. It can happen to both men and women.
Abuse might be:
- Physical e.g. shaking, slapping, pushing or kicking someone.
- Sexual e.g. any sexual activity that the person does not want, understand or agree to.
- Psychological e.g. threats of harm or abandonment or humiliation, intimidation or verbal abuse.
- Financial e.g. stealing someone’s money or denying them access to their money or possessions.
- Neglect e.g. ignoring someone’s medical or care needs, or withholding food, drink or aids to daily living.
- Discriminatory e.g. abusive remarks or actions regarding a person’s age, race, religion sex or abilities.
Who may be abused or at risk?
- Any vulnerable adult can be at risk of abuse or harm.
- People can be abused in their own homes, in care homes, care homes with nursing, in day centres, at work, in hospitals, police stations and in public places.
Who may be an abuser?
- Either a woman or a man.
- A partner, child or relative, or other household member.
- A friend or neighbour.
- A volunteer worker.
- A health or social worker.
- A member of staff in a care home or sheltered housing scheme.
- Another vulnerable adult.
- Anyone else with access to the person concerned.
- A stranger.
What should I do?
It is everyone’s responsibility to help to protect vulnerable adults from being abused. If you know that an incident of abuse has taken place, you should report it.
You can contact any of the agencies listed below. If it is an emergency, you should contact the police immediately. They will take your concerns seriously and will work with you or others to make sure everyone is safe.
Looking after a vulnerable adult can be difficult. Carers can feel isolated and stressed. If you are worried that you might harm the person you are caring for it is important that you talk to someone. You can contact any of the agencies listed below and they will be able to offer you help and support.
Staff members who work with vulnerable adults may be worried about the consequences of reporting abuse. It is important that you tell someone what is happening. The person concerned may not be able to report the abuse themselves and may rely upon you to voice your concerns. You will be offered advice and support by the agencies listed below.