Hidden extent of vulnerable adult abuse

The hidden scale of vulnerable adult abuse can be assessed by tracking individual council’s levels of referrals.   This is a long term exercise but clicking on the statistics tag will highlight different posts with this information.  Register your interest if you would like to be kept informed of this work.

Case Study – Wokingham Borough Council

For instance, 118 paid staff were accused of abusing vulnerable adults in Wokingham Borough Council last year, but only 14 were disciplined.  Furthermore referrals to Wokingham Borough Council have increased by 80 per cent to 380 people over the last 12 months. Of these 380 people, 192 were elderly and 152 had a learning disability.

The recorded types of abuse, with some referrals including more than one type of abuse reported, include 181 physical, 106 neglect, 79 psychological, 62 financial, 45 sexual, 17 institutional and four discriminatory.  The level of seriousness varies in the cases, however investigations of the reports so far show 55 per cent were substantiated or partly substantiated. The alleged perpetrators include 118 paid staff, with 92 of these working as care staff, some of whom are council staff and others are working for outside organisations in the borough, such as care homes.

However, council figures show just 14 of the 118 staff have been disciplined to date. 

The council has put the dramatic increase in referrals down to greater awareness of the types of abuse vulnerable adults can fall victim to and improved reporting mechanisms.  Mike Wooldridge, development and improvement team manager for adult social care services at Wokingham Borough Council, explained in some cases staff may have been dealt with in other ways, such as training.  He said: “It does look on the face of it that very few people have been disciplined. That might well be the case but it might not always be appropriate to discipline staff, it might be a training issue, they don’t necessarily need to be dismissed or disciplined.”

Other alleged perpetrators of abuse include 88 vulnerable adults, 65 family members, 37 partners, and 27 friends/neighbours.