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Adult at Risk Abuse

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What is Adult at Risk Abuse?

Adult at Risk of Abuse is one of the three threads under safeguarding. However, Adult at Risk and Elder Abuse are managed jointly under legislation and the Wales Safeguarding Procedures.

An adult at risk is defined by the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 as “an adult who:

  • Is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect
  • Has needs for care and support
  • As a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.”

 According to the Wales Safeguarding Procedures:

the use of the term ‘at risk’ means that actual abuse or neglect does not need to occur before practitioners intervene, rather early interventions to protect an adult at risk should be considered to prevent actual abuse and neglect…”.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial or neglect. The abuse can take place in any setting, whether in a private dwelling, an institution or any other place. A number of these can be linked to other topics that are covered on this website, including (but not limited to) VAWDASV, Modern Slavery and Exploitation, and criminal exploitation.

Prior to the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 adults at risk were known as vulnerable adults, a term frequently still referred to within the criminal justice system. An adult may be identified as being at risk due to mental capacity (including dementia), physical or emotional health and wellbeing, being an unpaid carer or other protected characteristics.

The victim must be 18 years old or older. If they are under 18 then the abuse falls under the category of child abuse.

  • Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 provides duties and legislative background to the provision of care and support, as well as to responding to safeguarding concerns and the need to report any signs of abuse to safeguarding teams. Part 7 is particularly important as it sets out statutory guidance that must be complied with.
  • Wales Safeguarding Procedures provide clarification and are accessible for delivering the safeguarding responsibilities and responding to the guidance.
  • Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 includes the 7 wellbeing goals for a resilient Wales, a more equal Wales, a Healthier Wales and a Wales of Cohesive Communities. These are to be delivered through the 5 ways of working: collaboration, prevention, involvement, integration and long-term.

Other legislation:

Help and support

For victims, families and concerned people

It can be difficult to reach out for support if the abuse is by someone who is a close friend or relative, but abuse and neglect are never acceptable and there is help available to help stop it. If the abuse is being carried out by someone who provides care and support, reporting will not stop you receiving services. Your care and support needs will continue to be met as part of any safeguarding response.

Report to safeguarding in your local authority (see Directory). Report it to the police by calling 101 or report it online depending on your region of Wales – South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys Police, Gwent Police or North Wales Police. In an emergency, call 999. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, use the Police textphone service 18000 or text on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.