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Protecting Vulnerable Adults.

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Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007
Risks and Responsibilities
Fire exits and alarms
Toilet facilities
No Smoking
Course Content
Definitions -- Adult at Risk and Harm
Information Roles and Responsibilities
Difficulties and Dilemmas
Procedures and Practice
Key Messages
Course Material
Much of the course has been drawn from training material developed by social
work, health and police service staff in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Scottish Borders,
and Perth & Kinross, with contributions from staff from the Scottish Government’s
Adult Support and Protection Team concerning legislation and particularly the
Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007. All of the material can be
customised for local use.
The course is intended initially for staff who will have key roles in relation to the
legislation, including Council Officers, and specialist NHS and Police staff, and
within this context to complement training on the legislation and its practice
The wider workforce in social care, health and housing support services, and the
police, as well as in a wide variety of other agencies, will also require to have
knowledge and awareness of adult support and protection, and this half day
awareness course is also designed for them.
1. Introduction
Learning outcomes
At the end of this session participants will have an understanding of:
What is meant by the term �adult at risk’.
What is meant by the term �harm’.
What are the signs of harm.
What should be the response to concerns that an adult is at risk of harm.
What are the responsibilities for sharing information.
What principles should be followed and ethical dilemmas faced.
What local interagency Adult Support And Protection Guidelines exist .
Session Rules
• We will be discussing harm of adults in this session.
• This can be an emotive and difficult subject.
• It is therefore essential to create a safe learning environment for all
• Everyone’s comments will be respected.
• All personal information shared within the room is confidential unless it
raises concerns about an adult at risk.
In 1997 the Scottish Law Commission published recommendations and
a draft Bill in respect of �vulnerable adults’.
Since then there have been several formal enquiries, where there have
been failings in local services in individual cases. Local experience and
practice has also developed considerably.
National policy to protect people has also moved forwards, with new
laws for adults with incapacity, mental health care and treatment, and
most recently the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007.
The Law
Many laws are relevant to the support and protection of adults at risk, including:
Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007
Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007
Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004
The Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001
Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001
Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000
The Data Protection Act 1998
Human Rights Act 1998
Public Disclosure Act 1990
NHS and Community Care Act 1990
The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968
The National Assistance Act 1948
Further information in relation to the above legislation can be accessed
from the Scottish Government website at
Group exercise 1
The aim of the exercise is to see what your initial feelings or perceptions are
and to discuss the differences in your multi-agency groups.
Take 5 minutes to read the scenarios. Rate them on the scale from 1 to10.
Each case must have a different rating attached to it, so that you have a list
from 1 to 10 and from those you think are the least harmful to those you think
are the most harmful.
In your groups:
Compare results. Discuss the choices you have made, and if you have rated
them differently why that might be so. What personal and professional values
may have influenced your ratings?
Attitudes Exercise
Least Harm
Most Harm
Consider the following scenarios and number according to level of harm
There are no right or wrong answers. This activity works best if you answer the questions spontaneously.
1. Every day, Samuel, who was a refugee and was imprisoned and beaten in his country of origin, is visited by his 16 year
old grandson. The grandson likes to sneak up behind his grandfather and shout “The prison guards are coming”.
2. George has severe emphysema and lives with his family. They all smoke inside the house.
3. Carer Eric gives his wife extra medication so he can get a good night’s sleep.
4. John visits his mother every week on pension day. After his visits, his mother never has any money.
5. Peter arranges for his mother’s pension to be paid into his own bank account and says he is saving for her funeral. She
would like to spend a week by the seaside but Peter says she cannot afford it.
6. Phillip watches pornographic DVDs on TV in front of his mother, aged 74, every day.
7. A district nurse and carer talk about Edith and her condition in front of her and do not include her in the conversation.
8. Rosemary is very weak and unsteady on her feet, but would love to try to walk around the garden with her zimmer
frame to look at the flowers. Her daughter says she must remain in the house.
9. A daughter says to her mother “If you don’t stop messing the bed, I’ll get you put away in one of those old people’s
10. A neighbour regularly shops for the old people living in the same block. She takes ВЈ2 for herself out of the money she is
given for the shopping but does not tell the people she is doing this.
2. Definitions
Adult at Risk
What is meant by the term �adult at risk’?
Who is an �Adult at Risk’?
The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 defines Adults at
Risk, through a three-point test, as adults, aged 16 years or over, who:
are unable to safeguard their own well-being, property, rights or other
are at risk of harm; and
because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or
physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than
adults who are not so affected.
The Three-Point Test
Can you think of people you have worked with, who would:
a) Meet the three-point test, and be considered as adults at risk;
b) Meet only one or two elements of the three-point test, and not be
considered as adults at risk.
Three-point test -- unable to safeguard well-being, property etc; at risk of
harm; and because they are affected by disability, etc are more vulnerable ......
What is meant by the term �harm’?
Types of harm
The following are the main forms of harm that have been identified:
Financial or material
Neglect and Acts of Omission
Human Rights
Examples of types of harm
Neglect & Acts of Omission - withholding adequate nutrition, clothing, heating; failing to provide
for medical or physical care needs; failure to give privacy and dignity; neglect of accommodation;
Financial harm/exploitation: theft; fraud; use or misuse of money or property without the adult’s
consent; preventing access to money or property; pressure in connection with wills, property,
inheritance or financial transactions.
Psychological harm: intimidation by word or act; bullying; verbal abuse; threats of harm or
abandonment; deprivation of contact with others, or of something important to the adult;
humiliation; blaming; controlling; coercion; taking away privacy; constant criticism.
Physical Harm: hitting, slapping, pinching, pushing, biting, burning, scalding, shaking; forcible
feeding; inappropriate restraint and/or sanctions; improper use of medication; �rough-handling’;
inappropriate sanctions; restriction of freedom of movement (e.g. locking the adult in a room, tying
him/her to a bed or chair)
Sexual harm: contact – unwanted/non-consensual touching/kissing/sexual activity; non-contact –
photographing; exposure to pornographic materials; being made to listen to sexual comments;
indecent exposure; sexual harassment; voyeurism.
Discriminatory harm: actions (or omissions) of a prejudicial nature focusing on a person’s age,
gender, disability, race, colour, cultural background, sexual/religious orientation.
Human Rights: denial of a liberty, fair hearing, freedom of speech or religion; slavery.
What is �harm’?
The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 says:
“harm” includes all harmful conduct and, in particular, includes:
conduct which causes physical harm;
conduct which causes psychological harm (e.g. by causing fear,
alarm or distress);
unlawful conduct which appropriates or adversely affects property,
rights or interests (e.g. theft, fraud, embezzlement or extortion);
conduct which causes self-harm.
N.B - “conduct” includes neglect and other failures to act, which includes
actions which are not planned or deliberate, but have harmful
Group exercise 2
Place in order of the most
prevalent form of harm
to older people:
Type of Harm
Exercise 2 – Survey Finding
Answer (UK Figs)– percentage of the population:
UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People - National Centre for Social Research, King’s College London - June 2007
Note: The prevalence estimates are almost certainly lower than the actual level of mistreatment
More men (5.2%) than women (3.6%) in Scotland – different from other UK countries
Patterns of harm
Patterns of harm vary and reflect very different dynamics. These include:
Neglect of a person’s needs because those around him or her are not able to be responsible for
the person’s care or with deliberate intent;
Situational harm which arises because pressures have built up and/or because of difficult or
challenging behaviour;
Long term harm in the context of an ongoing family relationships e.g. between siblings,
Unacceptable �treatments’ or programmes which include sanctions or punishment such as
withholding of food & drink, seclusion, unnecessary or unauthorised use of control & restraint;
Opportunistic harm such as theft occurring because money has been left around;
Institutional harm which features poor care standards, lack of positive responses to complex
needs, rigid routines, inadequate staffing and an insufficient knowledge base within the service;
Serial abusing in which the perpetrator seeks out and �grooms’ vulnerable individuals. Sexual
abuse usually falls into this pattern as do some forms of financial harm.
Department of Health: No Secrets (2000)
3. Risks
What are the signs of harm?
People who are harmed
People who are harmed very often have or are:
Socially isolated
Communication difficulties
Impaired intellect, memory or physical function
Behavioural problems
History of poor quality long term relationships
Pattern of family violence
Risk factors
People have been shown to be more at risk if their carer:
Has mental illness
Has drug +/or alcohol misuse
Has a past history of offending
Is financially dependent on client
Is socially isolated
Suffers from external stress – mainly associated with house sharing
not work
But anyone can end up harming!
The harm may be perpetrated with or without deliberate intent.
Signs of harm
Staff and others should look out for the signs of abuse and harm, including:
Unusual or suspicious behaviour by client or carer
Delay in seeking advice for injuries
Over frequent / inappropriate referrals to outside agencies
Misuse of medication
Sudden increase in confusion
Unexplained physical deterioration
Difficulty in interviewing adult
Demonstration of fear
Anxious, disturbed or rejecting behaviour
Carer +/or client showing apathy, depression and withdrawal
Diagnosis of sexually transmitted disease
Serious or persistent failure to meet needs
Who harms?
People who abuse and harm others include:
Family/Informal carers
Spouses/partners or ex-spouses/ex-partners
Friends and associates
Professional staff & care workers
People who deliberately exploit adults at risk
Service users
Other adults at Risk
Group exercise 3
Place in order of the most
prevalent source of
harm to older people:
Care workers
Close Friend
Other Family Member
Source of Harm
Exercise 3 – Survey Finding
Answer (UK Figs)– percentage of the population:
UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People National Centre for Social Research, King’s College London - June 2007
Note: Respondents could mention more than one person
Group Exercise 4
Place in order of the
most prevalent places
where harm to older
people occurs:
• Care home
• Hospital
• Own house
• Sheltered housing
• Other
Place where Harmed
Exercise 4 – Survey Finding
Answer (UK Figs)– percentage of the survey population:
Source: Audit of calls to the AEA help line
House of Commons Health Committee. Elder Abuse. Session 2003–04
4. Responses
What should be the response to concerns
that an adult is at risk of harm?
Group exercise 5
It is common for an adult who is being
harmed to deny this.
Group exercise 6
Place in order of the most
prevalent reactions of
responses to disclosure of
abuse to them by older people:
• No reaction
• Reacted verbally, physically,
or confronted the perpetrator
• Emotional reaction
• Ignored it or walked away
Response to
Exercise 6 – Survey Finding
Answer (UK Figs)– percentage of the population:
UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People - National Centre for Social Research, King’s College London - June 2007
Note: Respondents could give more than one answer; Reaction questions were not asked for neglect
Barriers to disclosure
Barriers to disclosure commonly include:
Pride – not wanting to be viewed as stupid or vulnerable;
Loyalty –when family is involved, or towards friends or care/support staff;
Culture – generation which does not complain;
Fear – may make things worse, may have to go into care.
Handling disclosures
When someone discloses harm, then you should:
Ask client what happened & listen
Ask person who, what, where, when & why – obtain relevant information*
Remember this may be the only opportunity (e.g. client’s poor memory)
Restrict your questions to one interview
Take a note of points to remember
Try and avoid leading questions -- possible open questions include:
*“do you want to talk about what happened?” “what has happened today?” “are you
hurt anywhere?” “has this happened before?” “where were you?” “what do you think
about this?” “who was around?” “what can de done to help just now?” “what do you
want to happen now?”
Disclosure – do / don’t
• Stay calm and listen carefully
• Reassure person, show sympathy & concern
• Explain what you are going to do
• Report to your line manager
• Write the facts of what you have been told
• Make judgements, appear shocked, horrified or angry
• Give assurances, promises – keep secrets
• Confront or contact alleged perpetrator
• Press the individual for details
• Remove forensic evidence
Immediate help required
If the adult at risk appears to be in immediate physical danger or urgent
medical attention is needed:
Contact appropriate emergency service (police, ambulance);
Consent & capacity is not an issue when in life and limb situation;
Medical care must be sought & provided if needed;
Staff must be aware of the preservation of evidence;
Staff members should not put themselves at risk;
Staff should always discuss and record action taken.
Consult supervisor / manager
Discuss with line manager, supervisor or suitable alternative manager as soon
as possible about:
• Suspected or actual harm, and the full facts and circumstances of the case;
• An agreed action plan;
• Whether there is a need to obtain more information;
• Whether a referral to the local Social Work Team office is appropriate;
• Consent and capacity issues, and duty to inform under the Act;
• If a medical examination needs to take place and whether delay may
jeopardise securing vital evidence;
• Whether the adult at risk needs to be removed to a place of safety;
• Whether immediate action would cause more distress and/or pose greater
risks to the adult.
All actions and decisions to be recorded.
Who can help?
Senior staff member
Social Work
Care Commission / Mental Welfare Commission
Family Protection Unit
Adult Protection Unit
Never hesitate to ask or phone for advice if you are unsure about anything!
Group exercise 7
In your groups discuss and assess the risk
in one case scenario.
What factors influence and inform your
What factors hinder your assessment?
Group exercise: case scenarios
Tom (19 )
Tom is a young Asian man who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. His community health Nurse visits fortnightly. He lives alone in a
second floor supported tenancy In a council estate. Children call him names and people throw stones at his window and kick his door. His
girlfriend, who is 8 months pregnant and has a mild learning disability has her own tenancy down the road. She provides informal support for
Tom and called the police on the last few occasions. Last week, a gang stuffed lit papers through his letter box. The police attended. Tom is
frightened to go out and lives in fear of his neighbours. Yesterday, Tom’s community health nurse visited. She saw he was in a distressed state
and seemed eager to tell her something. He repeatedly said to her “ If I tell you, you won’t tell
anyone else will you ?
What are the main concerns / risks ?
Rachael ( 75)
Rachael, 75, was admitted to hospital having sustained a head injury. The meals on wheels person found her unconscious and called an
ambulance. Over the past 6 months, Rachael has had numerous admissions with falls, fractures and unexplained major bruising. Rachael states
she has become clumsy lately, no physical evidence has yet been established as a cause. At present, Rachael’s support includes an allocated care
manager, meals on wheels and district nurse input. After being discharged, as the nurse was assisting Rachael to bath, she disclosed to her that
her son had actually caused the injury as well as the previous injuries. Rachael went on to say her son had an alcohol problem and became
physically violent towards her on pension days, when she refused to give him more money. She insisted the nurse keep this information
confidential as she did not wish her son to get into trouble.
1. What are your main concerns ? 2. What action would you take ?
Ivy ( 51 )
Ivy lives alone in a ground floor flat. She has learning difficulties and cannot read or write. A couple of years ago her health deteriorated
And now she cannot walk very far. The only time Ivy goes out is when she attends a luncheon club twice a week. Both a care manager and a
home care worker have been involved with Ivy for some time. There have been concerns in the past when Ivy has said she has not got any
money left. She has never said where the money has gone. Only on one occasion did she say she had given some money to her 25 year old
daughter, Tracey. This weekend the police have been called out by a neighbour, who had heard Ivy shouting for help through the wall. When
the neighbour went in she found Ivy crying and saying she was starving. It seems Tracey has come to visit and whilst Ivy was on the toilet she
took all the money out of her purse and left the flat. Ivy had not eaten for three days. The home care worker arrives on Monday to find the
neighbour with Ivy. They explain what has happened over the weekend and then Ivy says it has happened before.
1. What are your main concerns ? 2. What action would you take ?
5. Information
Roles and Responsibilities
What responsibilities are there
to share information?
Group exercise 8
What may stop us from sharing concerns when
witnessing practices or incidents that may have a
negative effect on the welfare of an adult at risk?
Information sharing: the law
Various laws protect information. The rights to privacy and seeking consent should
always be considered, but various laws also allow information sharing without consent:
The Human Rights Act 1998
The Common Law Duty of Confidentiality
The Data Protection Act 1998
These existing laws allow information to be disclosed without consent:
where such disclosure is required by law (either a court order or statute);
where such disclosure is for crime prevention, detection and prosecution;
where such disclosure is in the public interest (including the best interests of
adults, who are or may be being harmed).
The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 supports information sharing
without consent when it is necessary to protect adults at risk.
Information sharing: duties
The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 says that where a public body* or
office-holder knows or believes that a person is an adult at risk, and that action needs to be
taken (under this Part or otherwise) in order to protect that person from harm, the public body
or office-holder must report the facts and circumstances of the case to the council for the area
where the person is.
Section 10 also provides for the examination of records and says that a council officer may
require any person to give her/him health, financial or other records relating to an individual
whom the officer knows or believes to be an adult at risk. Only a health professional can then
inspect the health records (other than to determine whether they are health records).
These requirements conform with the Caldicott Principles that staff must understand and
comply with the law. The other Caldicott Principles are that staff must understand their
responsibilities; justify the purpose(s) for using confidential information; only use when
absolutely necessary; use the minimum that is required; and provide access on a strict need to
know basis.
* Local authorities, NHS Boards, Police Forces, the Care Commission, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, the Public Guardian
Capacity and decision-making
In common law, we all, as adults, have a right to make our own decisions. Others must
assume that we have capacity to act and make decisions unless there is evidence
otherwise. No one should be regarded as lacking capacity just because they make
unwise, unusual decisions, or because they have a particular diagnosis, illness or
In relation to adult protection inquiries and any interventions, for example through
guardianship or protection orders, it will be for Council Officers and others involved to
consider whether the adult has capacity or may be under undue pressure, and for the
courts to decide this.
The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 offers ways to protect adults who lack
capacity and are unable to secure their own safety and welfare.
However, the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 also requires specific
bodies and their staff to communicate about adults at risk whether or not they have
capacity, when the bodies or staff thinks that action needs to be taken in order to protect
that person from harm.
What is your role?
You have a Duty Of Care, therefore you have a duty to report and record any
concerns, suspicions or disclosures made by or about any adults who may need
If an adult at risk does not consent to you reporting concerns that he/she is being
harmed, it is necessary to go against his/her wishes when:
a person is, or may be, an adult at risk, and action needs to be taken in
order to protect that person from harm;
there is an issue of public safety.
the person is/may be a service provider, and other people may also be at
Never dismiss your information as being unimportant or trivial….it is very
important and may be the crucial part of the full picture.
Good practice in case recording and record keeping is that staff:
• record adequate, relevant personal data, which is not excessive for the purpose for
which it is processed, and which clearly distinguishes fact and opinion;
• record information following procedures at each stage of the process including
public information to service users and their representatives, and about consents;
• ensure limitations on information sharing identified by service users are flagged
both on the consent form and documented in relevant case notes;
• keep accurate records of what information has been disclosed to whom, the
source of the data disclosed, and the date on which it was disclosed;
• record full details about information disclosed without consent, the reasons for
the decision to disclose , the person who authorised the disclosure, if different
than the staff member concerned, and the person(s) to whom it was disclosed;
• record requests by other professionals that information supplied by them be kept
confidential from the service user, the outcome of this request and the reasons for
taking the decision.
Referral to the council
The referral to the Social Work Team should include (as far as possible) the following:
personal details – name, address, date of birth, ethnic origin, gender, religion,
GP, type of accommodation, family circumstances, support networks, physical
and mental health, any communication difficulties.
the referrer’s name, job title, agency, contact details and reason for involvement.
the nature/substance of the allegation.
details of care givers/significant others.
details of alleged person inflicting the harm/current whereabouts and likely
movements within the next 24 hours, if known.
details of any specific incidents, e.g. dates, times, injuries, witnesses, evidence
such as bruising.
what was said and by whom – where possible in the words used by the adult.
background of any previous concerns.
whether the adult is aware/has consented or not to the referral being made.
actions already taken, if any.
information given to the adult, expectations and wishes of the adult if known.
Person responsible: staff member / line manager
The Adult Support and Protection Act says that certain public bodies and their
office-holders* must, so far as consistent with the proper exercise of their
functions, co-operate with a council making adult protection inquiries, and with
each other.
The same sort of co-operation would also be a matter of good agency and
professional practice for other agencies and service providers and their staff in
relation to adult protection, and would be an expectation under national care
and practice standards.
* Local authorities, NHS Boards, Police Forces, the Care Commission, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, the Public Guardian
Key Messages
• Communicate
• Record
• Co-operate
6. Difficulties and Dilemmas
What principles should be followed
and ethical dilemmas faced?
Adult protection dilemmas
Risk taking
Consent/confidentiality/Duty to report suspicion / witness
Challenging behaviour & restraint
Whistle blowing
Allegations against staff
Domestic abuse
Feelings of carers and stress
Impact on family of allegations
Group exercise 9
In your multi-agency group, discuss the 3
statements provided.
You may wish to make notes in the space
Feedback in plenary after approximately
10 minutes.
Group Exercise: dilemmas
It is a fundamental human right to choose to remain in an harmful situation.
Multi-agency personnel must always adhere to the individual’s right to confidentiality.
�Whistle-blowing’ should only happen once all other options have been discounted.
7. Procedures and Practice
What local interagency guidelines exist
adult support and protection?
Local interagency procedures
Local contact details
8. Key Messages
Key messages
For the system to work we need:
Information sharing
Knowledge of procedure
Clarity of role
Awareness that no one agency has all duties
The messages for individual staff are:
Be alert for possible harm
Do not go it alone
Recognise people’s rights
Make clear decisions
Avoidance of hesitancy – recognise duty to report
Talk to other agencies
Write it all down
Half Day Awareness Course
Date:August 2008
Your assistance in completing this evaluation is important, as it will provide an indication of
the effectiveness of this training.
Evaluate the degree to which the training has been effective in enabling you to achieve the
following learning objectives.
1.Understand what is meant by the term �adult at risk’.
2.Understand what is meant by the term �harm’.
3.Understand what are the signs of harm.
4.Understand what should be the response to concerns that an adult is at risk of harm.
5.Understand what are the responsibilities about sharing information.
6.Understand what principles should be followed and ethical dilemmas faced.
7.Understand what local interagency Adult Support And Protection Guidelines exist.
Please rate the value of the training overall
Please note any other comments:
Adult Support and Protection
Possible indicators of harm
Additional information – for reference
Possible indicators of neglect and acts of
• Unkempt appearance
• Inappropriate or inadequate clothing (e.g. adult is kept in nightclothes
during the day)
• Medication is withheld and/or not given as prescribed
• Failure to seek medical attention or appropriate medical care
• Lack of food
• Malnourishment
• Dehydration
• Unexplained weight loss
• Poor personal hygiene
• Poor physical condition
• Urine sores or pressure sores
• Carers reluctant to accept contact/support from services
• Sensory deprivation (e.g. adult has no access to hearing aids, glasses etc)
• The adult is denied / doesn’t have access to necessary aids e.g. mobility
• Hazardous or unsafe living conditions (e.g. inadequate heating or lighting)
• Unsanitary or unclean living conditions (e.g. dirty bedding)
Possible indicators of financial harm / exploitation
Unpaid bills
Unexplained inability to pay for household shopping or bills
Disparity between the adult’s assets and living conditions
The adult has insufficient food / essential items
Sudden changes in the adult’s bank account or banking practice
Unauthorised withdrawal of the adult’s funds
Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
Signature on cheques that do not resemble the adult’s
The inclusion of additional names on the adult’s bank account
Abrupt changes to or sudden establishment of wills
The sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their
rights to an adult’s affairs or possessions
The unexplained sudden transfer of assets from the adult to another
Visitors whose only visits and interest in the adult always coincide with
the day that the adult cashes his/her benefits
Unusual and extraordinary interest, knowledge and involvement in the
adult's assets
Missing items from the adult’s home
Possible indicators of psychological harm
An allegation of harm made by an adult at risk
Denial that anything is amiss or wrong
Changes in the adults mental state (e.g. confusion, anxiety, paranoia)
Changes in the adults behaviour (e.g. agitated, aggressive, withdrawn, fearful,
challenging behaviour, anger and verbal or physical outbursts)
Feelings of worthlessness / hopelessness
Low mood / depression
Insomnia or excessive sleep
Changes in appetite
Unusual bouts of crying / tearfulness
Resignation (the adult accepts that being ill-treated is to be expected and is part of
his/her life)
Low self esteem
Poor confidence
Difficulty making decisions
Silence or restricted communication when the perpetrator is present
Subdued personality when the perpetrator is present
Lack of interest / concern / consideration for the needs of the adult
Denial of choices
The adult is not allowed to express his/her views or opinions
The adult is denied privacy
Denial of access to the adult
Possible indicators of physical harm
• An allegation of harm made by an adult at risk
• Denial that anything is amiss or wrong
• Changes in behaviour e.g. fearful, anxious, withdrawn, seeking attention and/or
protection from others, anger and verbal or physical outbursts
• The adult’s liberty or freedom of movement is denied or restricted (e.g. being
locked in a room, being tied up, inappropriate restraint)
• Unexplained, unusual or suspicious injuries (e.g. multiple bruising and/or
fractures, not consistent with a fall)
• Unusual or unexplained behaviour of carers (e.g. delay in seeking advice &
dubious or inconsistent explanations for injuries)
• A delay between an injury and seeking medical care
• Difficulty in interviewing the adult (e.g. another adult unreasonably insists on
being present)
• Difficulty moving (because of hidden or undisclosed physical injury)
• Over-medication / Under-medication (e.g. apathy, slurring of speech, excessive
sleep, lack of sleep, continual pain/distress)
• Medication is not given as prescribed or is being given against the adult’s will or
without the adult knowing e.g. being hidden in food***
***unless there is legislation in place for this to happen: Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2007 or Mental Health
(Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2005
Possible indicators of sexual harm
An allegation of harm made by an adult at risk
Denial that anything is amiss or wrong
Unexplained difficulty walking / sitting
Stained undergarments/bed linen
Changes in behaviour / mental state (e.g. fearful, anxious, withdrawn, seeking
attention and/or protection from others, sleep disturbance, nightmares, poor
eye contact, anger and verbal or physical outbursts)
Bruising/injury to genital/rectal area or inner thighs etc
Infections (e.g. urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections)
Complaints of pain/discomfort from genital/rectal areas
Fearful of or retreating from any form of physical touch or contact
Sexualised behaviour / language
Inappropriate attachments (e.g. if adult is being �groomed’ he/she may want to
spend time with perpetrator)
Attempts to avoid contact with perpetrator
Perpetrator engineering time alone with the adult
Enforced pregnancy / withdrawal of contraception
Signs of �Grooming’
What is �grooming’?
• Grooming is when a perpetrator tries to �set up’ and �prepare’ another
person to be the victim of harm, often sexual abuse.
• Grooming can be used by those known to the adult or by strangers.
• A grooming process can last for months or even years.
• It can be very subtle – those who are being groomed often do not realise
that they are being manipulated, nor do their relatives or carers.
• A perpetrator of sexual abuse may use many techniques to �groom’ and
prepare an adult for abuse, such as:
Giving an inappropriate level of attention to the adult
Telling the adult that he/she is �special’
Giving the adult �special’ treatment, favours and privileges
Offering, promising and/or giving gifts
Offering to help family/carers to gain access to the adult
Manipulating the adult through threats or coercion
Openly or �accidentally’ exposing the adult to nudity / sexual material
Sexualising physical contact
Having inappropriate boundaries (e.g. sharing �problems’)
Possible indicators of discriminatory harm
• Offensive remarks/slurs/harassment/ based on the adult’s age, gender,
disability, race, colour, cultural background sexual or religious orientation
• Changes to the adults mental state and behaviour ( e.g. fearful, anxious,
withdrawn, angry, frustrated)
• Loss of self-esteem
• Bullying
• Degradation
• Providing unacceptable food/diet
• Failure to provide for cultural needs
• Lack of sensitivity, care or interest to cultural diversity
• Isolation (e.g. due to barriers to communication)
• Verbal abuse
• �Hate crime’
• Lack of opportunities and equity
• Not allowing for individual choice or difference
• Social isolation and exclusion
• The adult is refused access to services or is excluded inappropriately
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