Safeguarding adults at risk policy

Policy owner: Clay Lister, Head of Safeguarding & Compliance (Safeguarding Lead)

Last Reviewed and Updated:14.02.2022

Signed by Head of Compliance & Safeguarding: Clay Lister

Signed by Manager: Date: Clay Lister 11.09.23

Download our easy read safeguarding policy


Policy statement

Terms and principles

What is abuse and neglect?

Where may abuse occur and by whom

Prevention of abuse


Additional guidance

A.    Section One - Policy 

1.    Policy Statement

1.1.    SeeAbility is committed to provide services that respect and uphold the human rights of the people we support and seek to reduce the likelihood of abuse or neglect of adults at risk. 

1.2.    SeeAbility is committed to good practice and through its policies and procedures it works hard to ensure that the people we support are guarded from any form of abuse whether intentional or unintentional.  

1.3.    SeeAbility recognises however, that within society as well as the social care sector, despite registration, inspection, codes of practice and quality assurance systems, regrettably abuse still occurs. SeeAbility therefore undertakes to raise awareness, promote appropriate reporting of concerns and to respond to concerns raised in a robust, proportionate and timely manner.

1.4.    SeeAbility is committed to:

  • Promoting the rights of all people to live free from abuse and coercion
  • Work in a way that promotes safety and well-being and can prevent abuse
  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of people who do not have the capacity to decide how they want to respond to abuse that they are experiencing
  • Supporting and promoting the freedom, well-being and dignity of the person who has or is experiencing abuse
  • Stopping that abuse occurring
  • Working in partnership with people & relevant agencies to prevent or respond to abuse 
  • Having a culture where people feel able to speak up if they are experiencing or have observed abuse and are confident that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon
  • Taking action to learn when abuse has occurred and to reducing the risk of reoccurrence

1.5.    Any allegations or observations of abuse (this may include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, financial or racial abuse and acts of neglect or omission), must be reported and will be dealt with in line with this policy and the Safeguarding Adults Policy and Procedures of the Local Authority in which the alleged abuse occurred.

1.6.    Under the Care Act 2014, the Local Authority has responsibility for co-ordinating the response to any safeguarding concerns raised and under Section 42, must: make enquiries or cause others to do so, if it believes an adult is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse or neglect. Any enquiry should establish whether any action needs to be taken to prevent or stop abuse or neglect and if so, by whom.

1.7.    This policy should be read in conjunction with SeeAbility’s Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure. 

2.    Terms and Principles

(Drawn From: Dept of Health – Care and Support Statutory Guidance – Issued Under Care Act 2014) 

2.1.    What is Safeguarding?

2.1.1.    Safeguarding means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect while at the same time making sure that the adult’s well-being is promoted including, where appropriate having regard to their views, wishes, feelings, and beliefs in deciding on any action. 

2.2.    Who Does Safeguarding Apply To?

2.2.1.    Safeguarding duties apply to an adult (someone aged 18 or over) who:

  • Has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;
  • Is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  • 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.

2.3.    Six Key Principles of Adult Safeguarding

  • Empowerment: People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent.
  • Prevention: It is better to take action before harm occurs.
  • Proportionality: The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
  • Protection: Support and representation for those in greatest need.
  • Partnership: Local solutions through services working with their communities, who have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
  • Accountability: Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

2.4.    Making Safeguarding Personal

2.4.1.    In addition to the principles above, making safeguarding personal means it should be person-led and outcome-focussed. It should engage the person in conversation about how best to respond to their safeguarding situation in a way that enhances involvement, choice and control as well as improving quality of life, well-being and safety. 

3.    What is Abuse and Neglect?

Abuse can broadly be defined in the following categories. This list is not exhaustive and should be considered as guidelines and examples only. Further information about Indicators of Abuse is available in Appendix 1.

3.1.    Physical Abuse

3.1.1.    The non-accidental infliction of physical force that results (or could result) in bodily injury, pain or impairment.

3.2.    Sexual Abuse

3.2.1.    Direct or indirect involvement in sexual activity without consent.

3.3.    Neglect or Acts of Omission 

3.3.1.    Ignoring or withholding physical or medical care needs.

3.4.    Self-Neglect

3.4.1.    This covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.

3.5.    Psychological / Emotional Abuse

3.5.1.    Psychological abuse is that which impinges on the emotional health and development of individuals.  Psychological/emotional abuse might also occur as a result of the other forms of abuse.

3.6.    Financial / Material Abuse

3.6.1.    The unauthorised, fraudulent obtaining and improper use of funds, property or any resources of a person at risk.

3.7.    Abuse of Individual Rights/Discriminatory Abuse

3.7.1.    Abuse of individual rights is a violation of human and civil rights by any other person or persons.

3.7.2.    Discriminatory abuse consists of abusive or derisive attitudes or behaviour based on a person’s race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion; and should be suspected when adults at risk:

  • Are not treated equitably and do not have equal access to available services
  • Experience humiliation, violence or threatening behaviour related to protected characteristics
  • Are not provided with the support they need, for example, relating to their religious or cultural beliefs
  • Are denied access to independent advocacy

3.8.    Institutional and Professional (Organisational) Abuse

3.8.1.    Institutional abuse refers to repeated instances of poor or inappropriate care or support and may be an indication of more serious problems. Institutional abuse occurs when the systems, processes and/or management of these is failing to safeguard adults leaving them at risk of, or causing them, harm. Institutional abuse can also occur when the routines, systems and norms of an organisation override the needs of those it is there to support or fails to provide those individuals with an appropriate quality of care.  This can be the product of both ineffective and/or punitive management styles, creating an environment within which abuse can take place, intentional or otherwise.   

3.8.2.    Professional abuse is the misuse of therapeutic power and abuse of trust by professionals, the failure of professionals to act on suspected abuse/crimes, poor care practice or neglect in services, resource shortfalls or service pressures that lead to service failure and culpability as a result of poor management systems/structures.

3.9.    Domestic Violence

3.9.1.    Includes psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; and so-called ‘honour’ based violence, between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

3.10.    Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

3.10.1.    This encompasses forced labour, sexual exploitation (e.g. pole dancing/lap dancing; prostitution; phone and internet sex chat rooms); enforced criminality (e.g. drug dealing/benefit fraud); trade in human organs; and domestic servitude. This list is not exhaustive and illegal adoption, female genital mutilation (FGM), and forced marriage could also be indicators of human trafficking.

3.11.    Other Forms and Patterns of Abuse

3.11.1.    Radicalisation - PREVENT: The Government’s Counter-Terrorism strategy CONTEST is based on four areas of work: Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare. ‘Prevent’ aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism or violent extremism by responding to the ideological challenge we face from terrorism, providing practical help to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and works with a wide range of sectors where there are risks of radicalisation. Extremism may be related to any religion, faith, political group, or environmental issues. There is no single route into extremism, nor is there a single profile that may fit an individual who is drawn into extremism. If there are concerns that a vulnerable adult is at risk of radicalisation or extremism a referral should be made to the Local Authority Prevent Team who will arrange support through the ‘Channel process’. This involves several agencies working together to give individuals access to services such as health and education, specialist mentoring and diversionary activities.

3.11.2.    Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): This is defined by the World Health Organisation as the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM is also known as female circumcision, cutting or Sunna. Sometimes religious, social or cultural reasons are put forward for this happening, but it is abuse and a criminal offence, to a woman or child. The term covers all harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes. A factsheet produced by the Home Office is available at this link, providing some information about FGM, what to do if you are concerned about someone who may be at risk of or has had FGM and sources of further advice.

3.11.3.    Gang Exploitation: Across the country, young people and vulnerable adults are being exploited by gangs to move and sell drugs on their behalf in suburban areas, market towns and coastal regions. This criminal activity is known as ‘county lines’, as people travel to different regions where they’re unknown to the police and can therefore operate undetected. These people are often subjected to threats, violence, and sexual abuse by the gangs. The signs to spot include: persistently going missing from home, or being found out-of-area; unexplained acquisition of money, clothes or mobiles phones; excessive receipt of texts or phone calls; relationships with controlling older people or gang association; suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries; and self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being.

3.11.4.    Hate Crime: Hate crimes and incidents can be against the person or property. Hate Crime can be motivated by the offender’s hatred of people who are seen as being different. An adult or child may be a victim because of race, religion, disability, age, sexuality or gender.

3.11.5.    Mate Crime and grooming: Mate Crime occurs when someone ‘makes friends’ with a person and goes on to abuse or exploit that relationship. This may be for financial or sexual gain. The relationship is likely to be of some duration and, if unchecked, may lead to a repeat and worsening abuse. The person may not be aware that this is happening to them. Mate crime can happen to anyone but adults with learning disabilities are especially vulnerable.

3.11.6.    Cuckooing: Is a practise where people take over another person’s home, usually to sell or store drugs, use the home for sex work or to live in the property themselves. Sometime move into the home to financially abuse the person. 

3.11.7.    Online Safeguarding: This is not just an IT issue; it is about safeguarding young people and adults in the digital world as part of our safeguarding responsibilities. The focus should be on building resilience to online risk in order for people to feel safe and confident using online services; and requires professionals, carers, advocates etc., to build their own understanding of the digital world. Risks that can be encountered through online activity include:

  • Exposure to inappropriate, harmful or illegal material e.g. gambling content, violent content, pornography or indecent images of children.
  • Bullying via technology (often known as cyber-bullying)
  • Creating and sharing sexual images of self or others (known as sexting).
  • Possible danger from making contact with unsuitable people via social networking sites, gaming, instant messaging or chat rooms.
  • Problematic internet use - addiction.
  • Exposure to content that promotes worrying or harmful behaviour e.g. suicide, self-harm or eating disorders.
  • Becoming a victim (or perpetrator) of cybercrime such as hacking, scams/hoaxes, fraud and identity theft.
  • Radicalisation or extremism online
  • Publishing too much personal information online.

3.11.8.    To support people to develop awareness of risks that can be encountered through internet use and measures that can be taken to reduce risk, the following guidance is available:

  • An Easy Read Guide About Keeping Safe Online
  • SeeAbility Social Media Policy and Poster
  • Safeguarding Guidance for People with a Learning Disability on How to Stay Safe On Social Media.
  • SeeAbility’s Digital Inclusion Project Creating Connections is also supporting people with learning disabilities to use the internet safely to connect with friends and family and offers a range of resources to support people in using technology.

3.11.9.    Missing Persons: Where people are known to abscond, wander/get lost; and may be at risk of harm if leaving home unsupervised, it is important to undertake a risk assessment and establish proportionate measures to minimise risks without inappropriate restraint. If someone is presumed missing and considered to be at risk, procedures outlined in SeeAbility’s Missing Person’s Policy (4.5 - Operational Manual) should be followed. This includes reporting the matter to the police and as a safeguarding concern.

3.11.9.    Missing Persons: Where people are known to abscond, wander/get lost; and may be at risk of harm if leaving home unsupervised, it is important to undertake a risk assessment and establish proportionate measures to minimise risks without inappropriate restraint. If someone is presumed missing and considered to be at risk, procedures outlined in SeeAbility’s Missing Person’s Policy (4.5 - Operational Manual) should be followed. This includes reporting the matter to the police and as a safeguarding concern.

3.12.    Note – Restrictive Practice and Deprivation of Liberty

3.12.1.    There are a wide range of decisions made on behalf of people who lack capacity which may have the effect of limiting their independence and would be viewed as ‘Restrictive Practice’ which significantly restricts or controls a person’s behaviour or freedom of movement or invades their privacy. e.g. use of monitoring devices; physical restraint; over medicating of people; limited access to areas within their home. Such restrictive practices are only lawful if they are the least restrictive means of providing the care a person needs and the decision to include restrictive practices is recorded in the support plan of a person who lacks capacity and has been made in their best interest. Please see SeeAbility’s policies about, STOMP (Stop Over Medication of people with a Learning Disability) Policy, Positive Behaviour Support (4.4 – Operational Manual) and Restrictive Practice (4.19 - Operational Manual) and Mental Capacity and Making Decisions (3.4 - Operational Manual).

3.12.2.    When a person who lacks capacity to make key decisions about where they should live and about their care, needs to be looked after in way which restricts their freedom to a high degree, for a significant period of time, they might be considered to be deprived of their liberty. Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights states that no-one should be deprived of their liberty except by a legal process.

3.12.3.    The ‘legal’ process for registered care homes and hospitals is to use the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) which allows authorisation to be given by a local authority. The ‘legal’ process in any other setting, such as supported living, is for an application to be made to the Court of Protection. 

3.12.4.    If you think deprivation of liberty may be occurring you are legally required to initiate the relevant legal process. The use of unlawful restrictions of a person’s liberty is a form of abuse and should be addressed as a safeguarding matter.

3.12.5.    Note: Following a review by the Law Commission of the processes in place to manage deprivation of liberty, a new legal framework has been established to provide a clear and accessible process to protect people who lack capacity to consent to care and/or treatment. The Liberty Protection Safeguards will provide a person-centred strength-based approach to consider all options before taking an option that results in a deprivation and the process to authorise this will form part of the support planning process. The Liberty Protection Safeguards will apply across all settings, there is no current date for implementation. 

4.    Where May Abuse Occur and By Whom 

4.1.    Abuse of adults at risk can occur in any setting or situation. Abuse may occur in:

  • Domestic Settings - including the person’s home or another person’s home.
  • Institutional Settings - including day care, residential homes, nursing homes and hospitals.
  • Public Settings - including the street, any public area, or social or work environment.
  • On The Internet - See Section 3 Above: On Line

4.2.    Abuse of adults at risk occurs in all cultures, all religions and all levels of society. The abuser may be anyone including family, friend, neighbour, partner, carer, stranger, paid care worker/service provider, manager, volunteer, another person who uses the service or any person who comes into contact with the adult at risk. 

5.    Prevention of Abuse

5.1.    To assist in the prevention of abuse, SeeAbility:

  • Ensures that it has robust recruitment procedures for all employees/volunteers, obtaining two written references and securing satisfactory checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), before employment is confirmed. However, where difficulty is experienced in obtaining two written references in a timely manner or there is substantive delay in receipt of a DBS check, on an exceptional basis, a person may commence employment only if a satisfactory Adults First Check has been received, a risk assessment is completed and control measures are in place to manage potential risks. DBS rechecks will routinely be repeated every 5 years or more frequently where there is a heightened risk or requirement.
  • Provides all employees/volunteers with training to raise their awareness of the possibility of abuse and procedures to report suspected/disclosed abuse.
  • Makes available guidance to staff about identifying and reporting abuse, through this Policy & Procedure, and by signposting to the relevant Local Authority Policy and Procedure.
  • Provides information about this, and the Concerns & Complaints and Whistleblowing Policies & Procedures to people we support, their families and carers through an introductory document: ‘About This Service’.
  • Promotes access to advocacy resources that can offer independent oversight and support people who may be experiencing abuse.
  • Outlines standards of conduct expected by employees/volunteers through a SeeAbility Code of Conduct for Staff/Volunteers, and People/Operational Policies & Procedures; and through guidance, coaching and oversight, promote good quality support.
  • Provides guidance on safe ways of working through health & safety policies, procedures and training, including risk assessment and management to enable people to do things safely.
  • Undertakes unannounced and announced monitoring visits to or audits of each service.
  • Has appointed a Safeguarding Lead to oversee all safeguarding activity in the organisation and support the implementation of this policy. The Safeguarding Lead is the Head of Compliance & Safeguarding, and their role is outlined in Appendix 1.

6.    Training

6.1.    All staff involved in providing services to adults at risk during their initial induction period will complete training in Managing Safeguarding, Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty; and will be introduced to this policy and procedure. 

6.2.    New operational staff will also be assessed and verified as competent against the Care Certificate, which incorporates safeguarding, and refresher training will be provided to all staff on an annual basis. This will be arranged by local Managers and may be delivered through a range of options including: reflective discussion and shared learning; attending the Local Authority safeguarding training; or accessing an on-line e-learning Safeguarding Course.

6.3.    A copy of the Local Authority Safeguarding Adults Policy and Procedures for the location in which the home/service is operating can be accessed online via Google search or using the link to Safeguarding Adults Boards in the UK, provided in Section 3. All Managers/Deputies/Seniors will be familiar with this and will attend training provided by the Local Authority where available, sharing this as appropriate with the staff team. 

B.    Section Two– Additional Guidance 

1.    Legislation and Guidance Underpinning This Policy

2.    Other Sources of Information

Appendix 1

SeeAbility Safeguarding Lead

For any safe guarding concerns, reports, or queries, please contact the below:

The SeeAbility Safeguarding Lead is:  
Head of Safeguarding & Compliance
Vicky Morris
Telephone: 07712046 770            

Alternatively you can raise concerns through SeeAbility’s Whistleblowing Line.

SeeAbility Whistleblowing line – Safecall
Telephone: 0800 915 1571

The Role of The Safeguarding Lead:

  • Oversee all safeguarding activity in the organisation.
  • Regularly brief senior leaders (leadership team and trustees) on any safeguarding issues within or relating to the organisation.
  • Advise the organisation on the requirements of the legislation and guidance relating to safeguarding.
  • Raise awareness on safeguarding with employees, volunteers and people we support, and promote a transparent reporting and learning culture.
  • Ensure safeguarding is included in recruitment processes and induction for all new colleagues.
  • Liaise with Head of Learning & Development to ensure all employees/volunteers receive safeguarding training appropriate to their role, and that reflects learning from safeguarding experiences.
  • Be proactive on safeguarding, identifying and minimising possible risks to prevent abuse and neglect where possible.
  • Support and advise colleagues who are dealing with safeguarding concerns and enquiries.
  • Advise on appropriate reporting and liaise with trustees in fulfilling their responsibility to report serious incidents to the Charity Commission.
  • Regularly review and update the organisation’s policy and procedures for safeguarding.
  • Forge local partnerships where possible and promote links with local Safeguarding Adults Boards.
  • Monitor safeguarding activities within the organisation and provide data that can help learning and improve future support.
  • Draw upon data from feedback, complaints, whistleblowing and statutory notifications to the Care Quality Commission.
  • Carry out internal practice audits and quality assurance.
  • Work with HR/People Team ensuring any relevant requirements of the Disclosure & Barring Service.
  • Provide information to people we support and/or their relatives on keeping themselves safe and raising safeguarding concerns.
  • Keep abreast of national and local changes and developments in safeguarding.