Safeguarding adults

Safeguarding adults arrangements focus on protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse or neglect.

Safeguarding adults is about people and organisations working together to stop the abuse or neglect of adults who are unable to protect themselves. It also means making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted with regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs.

An adult does not need to be eligible to receive help from the council with meeting their care and supports needs in order to be eligible for safeguarding. Safeguarding arrangements concern any adult aged 18 or over who:

  • has care and support needs (regardless of whether or not they are receiving any help with meeting their needs) and
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and
  • is unable to protect themselves because of their care and support needs.

Southwark Council has the lead responsibility for safeguarding adults in the borough.

Care and support needs

An adult with care and support needs may be:

  • an older person
  • a person with a physical disability, a learning disability, or a  sensory impairment
  • a person with mental health needs, including dementia or a personality disorder
  • a person with a long-term health condition
  • a  person who misuses substances or alcohol to the extent that it affects their ability to manage day to day
  • people who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, and modern  slavery

This is not an exhaustive list.

Abuse and neglect

Abuse and neglect can take different forms. The list below is not exhaustive:

  • physical abuse
  • psychological abuse
  • neglect (sometimes including self-neglect)
  • sexual abuse or exploitation
  • financial or material abuse
  • disability hate crime
  • discriminatory abuse (eg on grounds of age or sexual orientation)
  • domestic abuse
  • organisational abuse (eg in a care setting such as a residential care home)
  • human trafficking and modern slavery
  • female genital mutilation
  • restraint (unlawful or inappropriate use of restraint or physical interventions)

The aims of safeguarding adults

The purpose of adult safeguarding is to:

  • stop abuse or neglect wherever possible
  • prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect
  • safeguard adults in a way that supports them in making choices and having control about how they want to live
  • improve life for the adult concerned
  • provide advice and information to help adults with care and support needs to stay safe
  • raise public awareness so that professionals and local communities all play their part in preventing, identifying, and responding to abuse and neglect

Reporting abuse or neglect

To report a concern about an adult with care and support needs who is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, contact Southwark Adult Social Care. There are a number of ways you can do this:

If you are not a professional and are worried about confidentiality, you do not have to give your name to report a concern about abuse or neglect.

If the adult concerned is thought to be in immediate danger, then the emergency services should always be contacted first

What happens next?

We will arrange to talk to the adult about whom the concern has been raised as soon as possible to find out what they would like to happen.

If the adult has difficulty being involved in deciding what should happen, they might have a relative, carer, or a friend who can be consulted on their behalf.

In certain circumstances the council must make arrangements for an independent advocate to be appointed. The advocate will help to represent the adult’s views and wishes if they are unable to speak for themselves. See our Advocacy page for more information.

Once the council has received a safeguarding concern, it will coordinate an enquiry to find out what has happened and what needs to be done to help and protect the adult. The enquiry should take the person’s safety into account, but also consider their wellbeing more broadly. The person’s wishes should be heard and acted upon wherever possible.

If a crime has been committed, then the Police will be contacted. This is so that the adult who has been abused or neglected can have the chance to press charges if they want to.

Following the enquiry, steps to protect and support the adult will be discussed and decided upon. What the plan involves will depend significantly upon the adult’s own views and wishes about what they want to happen in their life. This might include making a different kind of arrangement for their care and support or helping the adult to end or manage their relationship with the person who has caused them harm differently.

Sometimes the person who has caused the abuse or neglect has care and support needs too, so may also require support in their own right.

In all instances the council will work closely with other agencies and organisations who are involved (or who can help to protect the adult and promote their wellbeing) so that everything feels joined up.

You can download copies of our safeguarding adults leaflet (including an easy read version) and poster:

Page last updated: 30 April 2018