Safeguarding means protecting a person’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.
Some people with care and support needs may not be able to protect themselves, which makes them particularly at risk of abuse and neglect. Adult safeguarding is the action taken by individuals and organisations to prevent or stop abuse and neglect of people with care or support needs.
As part of their adult safeguarding responsibilities, organisations such as Thurrock Council and health services work with the person experiencing abuse and neglect, to find out what safety means to them and how this can be best achieved. The adult’s values and wishes must be respected and where possible followed, regardless of whether professionals believe the adult’s decisions to be unwise. Mental capacity must be weighed up against the risk to the adult.
The aim of adult safeguarding is to:
- Prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to adults
- Stop abuse or neglect wherever possible
- Address what has caused the abuse or neglect
- Safeguard adults in a way that supports them in making choices and having control about how they want to live
- Promote an approach that concentrates on improving life for the adults concerned
- Raise awareness so that communities play their part in preventing, identifying and responding to abuse and neglect
- Provide information and support in accessible ways to help people understand the different types of abuse, how to stay safe and what to do to raise a concern about the safety or well-being of an adult
Who is responsible for adult safeguarding?
The lead agency for safeguarding adults is the council, however, everybody is responsible for adult safeguarding. By reporting a concern, you could help someone escape abuse. If you have experienced abuse or neglect, or you suspect that someone you know has experienced abuse or neglect, call 01375 511 000 or email TSAB@thurrock.gov.uk
Organisations such as the police, healthcare providers, social services and local charities often have access to personal and private lives of people which might otherwise be hidden. This access means that safeguarding is a vital part of these services’ roles. These local services have formed the Thurrock Adult Safeguarding Board to ensure that organisations in Thurrock are meeting their safeguarding responsibilities. Visit the What We Do section for more information on the Thurrock Safeguarding Adult Board.
What is abuse?
Abuse and neglect occurs when an individual’s human and civil rights are not respected or are broken. It occurs when a person is treated in a way that is legally and socially unacceptable.
There are many types of abuse and each has its own defining characteristics and signs, but all result in harm to the abused person, both physical and emotional. Abuse can take place without either the abuser or the abused knowing that the behaviour is considered abusive.
Visit the Types of Abuse section section of the website for more.
Who’s at risk of abuse or neglect?
Anyone can be a victim of abuse or neglect, including people that may not consider themselves as being abused. Anyone who experiences restrictions or disregard for their rights is a victim of abuse. This can take many forms such as
- Treating someone unfairly because of their race or gender
- Using cruel and hurtful language
- Abusing a position of trust to deprive a person of money
- Subjecting someone to physical attack such as hitting, burning or cutting
Some people are particularly at risk of abuse. These are people with physical or mental health needs, which result in them being dependent on another person for their care; for example:
- People with physical, learning or sensory disabilities
- Older people with complex medical needs
- People with dementia
- People with mental health problems
- People who are unable to communicate with local services or people.
Adult safeguarding is in place to protect those vulnerable people with care and support needs who are unable to protect themselves because of those needs. If vulnerable people are experiencing or at risk of abuse and neglect, organisations with adult safeguarding responsibilities are required to act.
Who abuses or neglects adults?
Anyone can perpetrate abuse or neglect. Although strangers can be perpetrators, it is far more likely that a person responsible for abuse is known to the adult and is in a position of trust and power, such as family members, friends, neighbours or professionals such as carers.
Abuse can happen anywhere, including in a person’s own home or place of residence, care institutions or places of work or education. Abusers often take advantage of private settings where their behaviour can go unobserved.