Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults
Monday, 20th October 2008
The Care Services Minister is to undertake a consultation aimed at improving the safeguarding of vulnerable adults from abuse - and to discover the best means by which abuse in the care system can be tackled.
The ‘No Secrets’ guidance for local authorities, the police and the NHS to work together to protect adults form abuse was published in 2000 but is only optional for these bodies. The charity Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) says that this guidance is regularly ignored and that ‘atrocious’ levels of abuse is suffered as a result. Scotland, by comparison, has recently taken legislative action to offer greater protection to at-risk adults.
The government has recognised that, in England and Wales too, it must keep up with the changing social care system, with the focus on choice and control and new forms of abuse. The AEA reports almost 900 cases of theft over the last four years – amounting to £41.5 million – by relatives of vulnerable adults.
The government is seeking views as to whether England and Wales should follow the same legislative path as Scotland. It is also considering whether it is practical for case studies on serious incidents of abuse, and particularly their recommendations, to be stored on a national database. Views on these issues, and on other measures which might be taken to address the problem of elder abuse, can be expressed via www.dh.gov.uk/en/socialcare/socialcareforms/safeguardinganddealingwithabuse/index
Launching the consultation, Minister Phil Hope said, ‘I am determined to improve safeguarding of vulnerable people. We need a greater focus on prevention, a greater emphasis on safeguarding in commissioning services and support, and greater empowerment of people to determine how they want to be safeguarded. The ‘No Secrets’ guidance must be updated to make sure that everyone – individuals, police, care agencies, the NHS and local authorities prevent abuse and also recognise it and stamp it out if it does occur.’