The Care Act 2014 established a national framework for dealing with the safeguarding of vulnerable adults in England. Amongst other things it required local authorities to make enquiries into any instance where it had reasonable grounds to suspect that abuse (including financial abuse) was taking place of any adult in their area.
A ‘vulnerable’ adult is simply one who ‘has needs for care and support, is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and who, as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.’
The legislation goes on to require local authorities to do a number of other things to protect vulnerable adults including the establishment of local ‘Safeguarding Adults Boards’.
Safeguarding Adults Boards
Each local Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) will have established policies and practices amongst the partners on the Board to direct and manage their legal responsibility to protect vulnerable adults living in, or resorting to their area. These may vary slightly in their detail from area to area, but will essentially cover much of the same ground. There is lots of guidance produced by a wide range of organisations, including government, professional bodies, trade bodies, and representative organisations to help those involved in the governance and operations of adult safeguarding.
As a provider of services to a local authority, either on a commissioned basis or employed, there will be a requirement for you to have in place your own policies and procedures to determine how the issue will be addressed within your organisation. There will almost certainly be a requirement for you and your team to undertake some training, with regular refresher sessions. This will include understanding and recognising different types of abuse, what puts a person at risk, and what to do if you suspect a person is at risk or suffering. Some local SABs will provide training, centrally coordinating groups of service providers, whilst others will require you to provide evidence of training.
The Housing and Safeguarding Adults Alliance shares information and good practice on safeguarding issues for housing providers.