Abuse of Vulnerable Adults

Definition of Vulnerable Adult and Abuse

The core definition of “vulnerable adult” from the 1997 Consultation “Who Decides?” issued by the Lord Chancellor’s Department, is a person:
“Who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of disability, age or illness; and is or may be unable to take care of unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”.  This definition of an Adult covers all people over 18 years of age.

What is 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 that significantly affects the person’s quality of life, to causing actual physical or mental suffering.

Abuse can happen anywhere:

  • in a person’s own home
  • in a residential or nursing home
  • in a hospital
  • in the workplace
  • at a day centre or educational establishment
  • in supported housing
  • in the street.

Who can abuse?

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

  • a paid carer in a residential establishment or from a home care service
  • a social care worker, health worker, nurse, doctor or therapist
  • a relative, friend, or neighbour
  • another resident or person using a service in a shared care setting
  • someone providing a support service
  • a person employed directly by someone in their own home as a carer or a personal assistant. .

 Others are strangers who:

  • befriend vulnerable people with the intention of exploiting them
  • deceive people into believing they are from legitimate businesses, services or utility providers
  • intimidate vulnerable people into financial transactions they do not want or cannot understand

 RECENT MEDIA FOCUS on Vulnerable Adults

25th January 2011  The Alzheimer’s Society warns  that the lack of support in England, Wales and NI can result in people going into residential care too early.  BBC News website readers have been adding their experiences.

24 January 2011   Carer ate food meant for patient with Alzheimer’s   BBC News

Northern Ireland’s South-Eastern Health Trust has apologised after a care assistant admitted abusing a 70-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease – The family of Ivy McCluskey, who were worried about her dwindling weight, secretly recorded Patricia Young eating food meant for her patient. Mrs McCluskey died soon after.