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Nottinghamshire County Council - Proud of our past, ambitious for our future

Adults at risk of abuse

 Who do safeguarding duties apply to?

The safeguarding duties apply to an adult who:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs)
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect

The adult's care and support needs should arise from, or be related to a physical or mental impairment or illness however, they do not need to meet the minimum eligibility criteria as set out in chapter 6 of the Care and Support Statutory Guidance, issued under the Care Act 2014.

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 What is adult abuse?

Abuse is mistreatment by any other person or persons that violates a person's human and civil rights. The abuse can vary from treating someone with disrespect in a way which significantly affects the person's quality of life, to causing actual physical suffering.

Abuse can happen anywhere - in a residential or nursing home, a hospital, in the workplace, at a day centre or educational establishment, in supported housing, in the street or in the person's own home.

Forms of abuse include:

Physical Abuse such as

  • hitting,
  • pushing,
  • pinching,
  • shaking,
  • misusing medication,
  • scalding,
  • restraint,
  • hair pulling.  

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Sexual Abuse such as

  • rape,
  • sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the adult has not or could not have consented, or to which they were pressurised into consenting.

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Domestic Abuse such as

  • controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour
  • violence between people who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality
  • 'honour' based violence
  • female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • forced marriage

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Psychological or Emotional Abuse such as

  • threats of harm or abandonment,
  • being deprived of social or any other form of contact,
  • humiliation,
  • blaming,
  • controlling,
  • intimidation,
  • coercion,
  • harassment,
  • verbal abuse,
  • being prevented from receiving services or support.

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Financial or Material Abuse such as

  • theft,
  • fraud or exploitation,
  • pressure in connection with wills,
  • property, or inheritance,
  • misuse of property, possessions or benefits.

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Neglect such as

  • ignoring medical or physical care needs and preventing access to health, social care or educational services or withholding the necessities of life such as food, drink and heating.

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Self - Neglect such as

  • neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings
  • behaviour such as hoarding 

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Discriminatory Abuse such as

  • Abuse based on race or sexuality or a person's disability and other forms of harassment or slurs.

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Modern Slavery such as

  • forced labour
  • debt bondage
  • sexual exploitation
  • criminal exploitation
  • domestic servitude

For more information on modern slavery please visit www.modernslavery.co.uk.

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Organisational abuse can sometimes happen in residential homes, nursing homes or hospitals when people are mistreated because of poor or inadequate care, neglect and poor practice that affects the whole of that service.

Any of these forms of abuse can be either deliberate or be the result of ignorance, or lack of training, knowledge or understanding. Often if a person is being abused in one way they are also being abused in other ways.

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 Who might be causing the abuse?

The person who is responsible for the abuse is very often well known to the person abused and could be:

  • a paid carer or volunteer
  • a health worker, social care or other worker
  • a relative, friend or neighbour
  • another resident or service user
  • an occasional visitor or someone who is providing a service
  • people who deliberately exploit vulnerable people

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 What do you do if you are being abused or you suspect that someone you know may be the victim of abuse?

The best way to protect adults from abuse is to try and prevent it happening:

  • keep a watchful eye out for family, friends, and neighbours who may be vulnerable
  • remember that abuse can happen to anyone
  • speak up if you have concerns. Trust your instincts!
  • try to find ways to limit the person's isolation if that is an issue
  • if you are caring for someone and feel it is getting too much, get help early.


If you have a concern:

  • do ask what you can do to help
  • do report what is happening
  • do not ignore what is going on
  • do not put the adult in any more danger
  • do not tell the person alleged to be abusing the adult that you are reporting what is happening. 

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 What if the abuse is also a crime?

If the abuse is also a crime such as assault, racial harassment, rape or theft you should involve the police to prevent someone else from being abused. If the police are involved we will work with them and with you to support you.

  • If you are worried about contacting the police you can always contact Nottinghamshire County Council to talk things over first.
  • If immediate action is needed the Emergency Services should be contacted by dialling 999.

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 What happens next?

You will be asked to give us:

  • as much detail as you can about your concern(s)
  • your name and contact details so we can give you feedback about your concerns. (Sometimes we might need to ask a question about what you have told us. However, you can report cases anonymously. It is better to tell somebody your concerns and not give your name than to remain silent).

You can get more information about what happens once you report a concern to Nottinghamshire County Council by asking for a copy of our leaflet 'reporting a concern about an adult - what happens next?' when you contact us.

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 Other useful contacts

Care Quality Commission (CQC) - www.cqc.org.uk

Health agencies - www.nottinghamshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/

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