People’s wellbeing is at the heart of the care and support system under the Care Act 2014, and the prevention of abuse and neglect is one of the elements identified as going to make up a person’s wellbeing.
In the context of the legislation, specific adult safeguarding duties apply to any adult who:
- has care and support needs and
- is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and
- is unable to protect themselves because of their care and support needs.
Local authorities also have safeguarding responsibilities for carers and a general duty to promote the wellbeing of the wider population in the communities they serve.
Safeguarding duties apply regardless of whether a person’s care and support needs are being met, whether by the local authority or anyone else. They also apply to people who pay for their own care and support services.
An adult with care and support needs may be:
- an older person
- a person with a physical disability, a learning difficulty or a sensory impairment
- someone with mental health needs, including dementia or a personality disorder
- a person with a long-term health condition
- someone who misuses substances or alcohol to the extent that it affects their ability to manage day-to-day living.
This is not an exhaustive list. In its definition of who should receive a safeguarding response, the legislation also includes people who are victims of sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and modern slavery. These are all largely criminal matters, however, and safeguarding duties would not be an alternative to police involvement, and would only be applicable at all where a person has care and support needs that mean that they are not able to protect themselves.
Adult safeguarding duties apply in whatever setting people live, with the exception of prisons and approved premises such as bail hostels. They apply regardless of whether or not someone has the ability to make specific decisions for themselves at specific times. There may be times when a person has care and support needs and is unable to protect themselves for a short, temporary period – for example, when they are in hospital under anaesthetic.
People with care and support needs are not inherently vulnerable, but they may come to be at risk of abuse or neglect at any point due to:
- physical or mental ill-health
- becoming disabled
- getting older
- not having support networks
- inappropriate accommodation
- financial circumstances or
- being socially isolated.
Local authorities have a duty to make sure that the care and support services they commission are provided safely and to a high standard, while also recognising and tackling the abuse and neglect that happens in community and domestic settings.
Working with their partner organisations – including housing organisations, the National Health Service (NHS) and the police – local authorities should make sure that adults who may be at risk of abuse or neglect are enabled to live as safely and independently as possible, making their own decisions and taking control of their own lives.
If risks to children are identified it is essential to consider a referral to local children's services.
Safeguarding is a term which is broader than ‘child protection’ and relates to the action taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Safeguarding is defined in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013 as:
- protecting children from maltreatment
- preventing impairment of children’s health and development
- ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and
- taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes
For more information, refer to the policy paper, Safeguarding children and young people.
If you're concerned that a professional or carer has harmed a child, contact Ruth Holmes, LADO for Barnsley Council, on (01226) 772341.
If you have concerns about a child or young person then please contact:
- the Referral and Response Team on 01302 734100 between 8:30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday
- or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Outside of these hours call Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council’s Emergency Social Services Team 01302 796000