Legislation and policies surrounding the protection of vulnerable adults (2023)

in the text

In the UK, there is a strong legal framework to protect vulnerable adults. Working in private care, or most public services, means you need to have a clear understanding of the rights of vulnerable adults and your responsibilities to them.

Since there is a range of legislation that covers the protection of vulnerable adults, it is important to have a clear understanding of all this. We'll explore some of the key questions you may have about adult protection and give you an overview of the law.

Issues we will cover include:

  • What does it mean to protect adults?
  • Who is defined as a vulnerable adult?
  • What are the basic principles for protecting vulnerable adults?
  • Whose job is it to protect vulnerable adults?
  • What laws protect adults?

What is Protecting Adults?

thisgeneral ideaProtecting adults is about protecting their lives, keeping them safe and preventing them from being threatened or neglected orabuse.That's a pretty big remit, so let's break it down.

Some adults need extra help taking care of themselves; this can happen for a number of reasons, and we'll cover definitions shortly. When an adult is seen as vulnerable, it is more likely that someone will abuse them or take advantage of them.

Protecting adults is one way to stop any abuse, whether physical, emotional, spiritual or financial.

It's not just about stopping a person from getting hurt, though. Promoting the wellbeing of vulnerable adults is also important – it is not enough to prevent them from being harmed; opportunities for learning, development and positive experiences should be provided for vulnerable adults.

Safeguarding needs to focus on outcomes for vulnerable adults. There are many processes that do need to be followed, but in the end getting something positive out of it is as important as applying the rules.

Legislation and policies surrounding the protection of vulnerable adults (1)

Who is a Vulnerable Adult?

The first thing to note when looking at who a vulnerable adult is is that you should never assume you are vulnerable. It's easy to assume someone is naturally vulnerable by looking at their appearance or knowing their age, but that's not a fair assessment -- although those factors may be part of a deeper understanding of the person.

How do we determine if someone is vulnerable? analyzelegal definition, a vulnerable adult is:

  • over 18 years old
  • people who need care and support
  • take the risk of experiencingabuseor ignore
  • People who cannot protect themselves from harm or exploitation.
(Video) Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Law & Legislation Part One

Under this definition,150,070 maintenance queriesPresented in 2017-18.

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether legislation protecting vulnerable adults is appropriate in a particular case.

Here are the main factors to consider when you assess your vulnerability, with some examples:

  • mental illness -People with mental illness can be exploited, for example, people with anxiety disorders can be manipulated into having someone take over their finances. However, this is not all-encompassing, and mental illness managed through medication and/or therapy does not necessarily make that person vulnerable.
  • Physical Disability -People with disabilities who are unable to bathe and dress themselves need additional support from caregivers, for example, where opportunities for physical abuse are possible. Not all physical disabilities lead to fragility - people who lose one eye are not necessarily abused for this factor.
  • Short or long term illness –Some illnesses do make people vulnerable, whether or not their condition robs them of mobility or the ability to make definite choices. It's all about context; people diagnosed with cancer can be emotionally abused because of their condition, but that's not always the case.
  • age -We've all known an older person who may have some difficulty organizing money or getting dressed in the morning; these may be factors to consider when assessing their vulnerability, as they may start to become dependent on someone. Not all seniors are the same, so don't make assumptions. An 18-year-old, on the other hand, doesn't follow his own interests naturally.
  • homelessWithout a safe place to sleep, a person can be subjected to different types of abuse, being involved in sex work or low-level crime by those around them. Not all homeless people experience this, and a person may be able to retain their personal support network while they look for shelter.
  • drug abuseMost substances have the ability to change the way we think and behave in some way, making us more exploitable. A woman who uses heroin may become more submissive and less resistant to sexual abuse, but a person may become dependent on alcohol and still be in control of every aspect of their life.

These are all risk factors for adults to be assessed as vulnerable. No single point alone determines whether a person is vulnerable.

Factors that certainly make vulnerability more likely;Among those over the age of 85, 1 in 43 were assessed as vulnerable, compared to 1 in 862 adults aged 18-64.

What is the safeguard principle?

Now that we have seen how to decide whether someone needs protection, let's look at the broad meaning of protection. You can probably come up with many ways to protect a person, but you don't want to go too far.

It is known that there aresix principlesWhen considering the protection of vulnerable adults and the proper application of legislation.

  • enablemeans giving protégés as much say in decisions about them as possible
  • preventionIt's always better to hurt than to deal with the aftermath
  • proportionalityStop being overprotective; any intervention should be as unobtrusive as possible
  • ProtectProvide adequate care and support to those most in need
  • partnershipEncourages cross-agency search for local solutions; rarely will a solution require only one department to implement
  • accountabilityMake sure decisions are made transparently, without secrecy and with clear reasons.

Legislation and policies surrounding the protection of vulnerable adults (2)

Who is responsible for protecting vulnerable adults?

In short, everyone has a responsibility to protect adults. If you see someone being abused or taken advantage of in any setting, you should report it so professionals can help.

There is a lot of protective legislation that places the onus on people in certain positions to act on reports of adult abuse. The primary legal responsibility to protect vulnerable adults rests with local authorities.

It takes a group of people working together to find the best way to protect vulnerable adults based on the principles of partnership and accountability we just discussed. This group is called an Adult Protection Board (SAB) and each local authority has one.

on this boardTypically representatives from:

  • the local authority that established it
  • Local clinical commissioning teams covering the region
  • The chief of police in charge of the local area.
(Video) Safeguarding Adults - Law & Legislation Part One 2020

People from local ambulance services, the Department for Work and Pensions, local advocacy groups and trading standards can also be invited.

In the private sector, every organization should have a safeguards officer role. This person is responsible for training staff on the protection of adults and relevant legislation and for reporting any potential protection concerns to the local SAB.

What legislation protecting vulnerable adults should I know about?

Properly protecting vulnerable groups has been the focus of new UK laws for the past two decades. We'll cover what you need to know about the law and which parts are relevant to protecting vulnerable adults in the UK.

Nursing Act 2014

The Act protects vulnerable adults by outlining legal responsibilities when protecting vulnerable adults. It places primary responsibility on local authorities and must cooperate with health and care organisations.

thisBehaviorEmphasize the overall well-being of vulnerable adults rather than basic safety and protection. The Act contains the key principles we outlined above:

  • enable
  • prevention
  • proportionality
  • Protect
  • partnership
  • accountability.

Protection of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

The purpose of the law is to ensure that unsuitable people do not end up working with vulnerable adults. People with a history of criminal abuse and exploitation are placed on a list that is checked when anyone applies to work with a vulnerable adult.

The censorship and banning system defines the types of jobs that require checklists, as well as regulated and controlled workplaces. It aims to prevent future abuse by those convicted of abuse.

Health and Social Care Act 2012

The main element of the Act protecting vulnerable adults is section 13. This part of the Act aims to protect adults in the health and social care system from abuse. There are also provisions that prevent the improper use of restrictions and the improper deprivation of someone's liberty.

Mental Capacity Act 2005

for anyone over the age of 16,5 key principlesThe bill reads:

  • presumption of ability—Until you're unsure, assume adults are able to make their own choices
  • Support for making decisions –It’s okay to support someone in making their own choices, but it should be support, not coercion
  • Ability to make unwise decisions -Just because someone makes a bad or unwise decision doesn't automatically mean they lack mental capacity
  • best interests -When someone is deemed mentally incompetent, anyone acting on their behalf must act in their best interest
  • least restrictive -If you are making a choice for someone without mental capacity, you should always choose the least restrictive but safe option.
(Video) What Is Safeguarding? (Adult Safeguarding)

Legislation and policies surrounding the protection of vulnerable adults (3)

Equality Act 2010

Under the Equality Act, there areNine Protected Properties,Right now:

  • age
  • Disability
  • transsexual
  • Marriage and Civil Partnerships
  • pregnancy and childbirth
  • Race
  • religion or belief
  • gender
  • sexual orientation.

There cannot be any discrimination based on these characteristics when assessing a person's vulnerability - all choices, assessments and decisions must be consistent.

Human Rights Act 1998

This piece of legislation is very broad, with a total of 13 articles, outlining everyone's fundamental legal rights. With regard to the protection of vulnerable adults, there arefour articlesYou need to know:

  • Article 2protection of the right to life
  • Article 3Freedom from degrading and inhuman treatment
  • The fifthEmbody the right to liberty and security
  • eighthGuaranteeing the right to private life, family life and family life.

If these rights are violated, a person can seek legal recourse, or have someone pass laws on their behalf.

Data Protection Act 2018

The Data Protection Act (DPA) was originally introduced in 1998 but was replaced by the 2018 Act which brought the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into law. It sets out how and when you can be permitted to process or use data that you have about a person. There are also rules about when data can be shared.

In terms of how this applies to vulnerable groups, there may be times when you need to conceal information that you have to protect others. Likewise, you may need to share information with other agencies seeking protection for vulnerable adults.

thisthe law allows itIf your actions prevent harm, allow an effective response, or are in the public interest, among other reasons.

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

Under this law, public and private sector workers can generally disclose private information to protect the public interest. This is called "reporting" and anyone who does this will not be harmed and discriminated against in the workplace.

(Video) Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults DSL L3 Part 1

In the case of vulnerable adults, it provides workers with protections to point out where people are not properly protected. If you think someone is not protected under the laws we have passed here, you can tell the authorities about someone's treatment and problems.

No Secrets 2000, a government white paper

The principles of this white paper are designed to protect and safeguard vulnerable adults, which we have previously passed through with the Care Act 2014, making them redundant.

The document outlines the responsibilities of local authorities and health and social care providers to protect adults within the appropriate framework. These issues have been more clearly defined in the Nursing Act, which you should refer to if you want to understand these issues.


There is a lot to learn about protecting vulnerable adults; legislation, responsibilities, principles. There is a lot of common sense built into these processes; acting in the best interests of the vulnerable while not crossing the line is an integral part of the system.

Each region of the UK has its own Adult Protection Board. If you have concerns about security issues, you can turn to here for help.

When making any decision or assessment and taking any action, please bear in mind the key principles that form part of the Care Act 2014. This means you need to empower adults to choose, prevent harm as much as possible, do only what is necessary to protect but provide protection when needed, work with other people and institutions, and be accountable and transparent in your decisions .

By following this and understanding what a vulnerable adult is, you will be able to ensure that you fulfill your moral and legal responsibility to protect vulnerable adults.

Legislation and policies surrounding the protection of vulnerable adults (4)

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(Video) Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults DSL L3 Part 2

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What is the protection of vulnerable adults policy? ›

What is the protection of vulnerable adults all about? All Protection of Vulnerable Adults Teams (POVA) work to ensure that all vulnerable adults are protected from abuse and neglect and when a referral is received it may be necessary to take action to keep individuals safe from further actual harm or risk of harm.

What are the three main points of the vulnerable adults policy? ›

Empowerment People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and give 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.

What does vulnerable mean in legislation? ›

Vulnerability. Being vulnerable is defined as in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, risk of abuse or neglect.

How can we protect vulnerable adults from abuse? ›

How to prevent abuse in vulnerable adults
  1. Keep an eye out for family, friends, and neighbours who may be vulnerable.
  2. Understand that abuse can happen to anyone although some people may be very good at hiding signs of abuse.
  3. If a person's isolation is an issue, discuss with them ways you might be able to help limit it.

Who is responsible for protecting vulnerable adults? ›

Local Authorities have statutory responsibility for safeguarding. In partnership with health they have a duty to promote wellbeing within local communities. Cooperate with each of its relevant partners in order to protect adults experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect.

What is the concept of protection of vulnerable individuals? ›

Safeguarding a vulnerable adult means making sure their lives are free from neglect and abuse, encouraging or helping them make decisions about their own lives and care, and creating a risk-free environment.

What is the protection of vulnerable groups act? ›

The Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme is managed by Disclosure Scotland. It helps ensure people who are unsuitable to work with children and protected adults cannot do regulated work with these vulnerable groups.

What is protection of vulnerable adults 2004? ›

Protection of vulnerable adults scheme (POVA)

The POVA scheme will act like a workforce ban. From 26 July 2004, individuals should be referred to, and included on, the POVA list if they have abused, neglected or otherwise harmed vulnerable adults in their care or placed vulnerable adults in their care at risk of harm.

How many core principles are vulnerable adults safe? ›

Six Principles of Adult Safeguarding - ACT.

What are the 4 types of vulnerable? ›

The different types of vulnerability

According to the different types of losses, the vulnerability can be defined as physical vulnerability, economic vulnerability, social vulnerability and environmental vulnerability.

What are the 5 types of vulnerable? ›

Types of vulnerability include social, cognitive, environmental, emotional or military. In relation to hazards and disasters, vulnerability is a concept that links the relationship that people have with their environment to social forces and institutions and the cultural values that sustain and contest them.

What are two examples of vulnerable? ›

He was very vulnerable after his divorce. The troops were in a vulnerable position. The fort was undefended and vulnerable.

Why is it important to protect vulnerable people? ›

Protecting the most vulnerable in society, when they need it, could ensure a better quality of life for many people. Some adults may be particularly vulnerable to abuse and may have their human rights routinely disregarded.

What are 3 ways to prevent abuse? ›

Ten Things You Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse
  • Volunteer your time. Get involved with other parents in your community. ...
  • Discipline your children thoughtfully. ...
  • Examine your behavior. ...
  • Educate yourself and others. ...
  • Teach children their rights. ...
  • Support prevention programs. ...
  • Know what child abuse is. ...
  • Know the signs.

Who are considered vulnerable adults? ›

care services for reasons like mental health issues, disability, age or illness. They are considered more 'vulnerable' because they may not be able to protect themselves from harm or exploitation.

What are safeguarding policies? ›

What is a safeguarding policy statement? A safeguarding or child protection policy statement makes it clear what your organisation or group will do to keep children safe. It should set out: your organisation's commitment to protecting all children.

What are the principles of the Care Act? ›

The 6 principles of the Care Act include empowerment, protection, prevention, proportionality, partnership, and accountability.

Who can be considered vulnerable? ›

There are some groups who have been identified by the federal regulations as “vulnerable populations”: pregnant women and fetuses, minors, prisoners, persons with diminished mental capacity, and those who are educationally or economically disadvantaged.

Who are the vulnerable people who need protection? ›

Who are the vulnerable people in the unorganized sector, who need protection? Ans. (i) In the rural areas, the unorganized sector mostly comprises landless agricultural labourers, small and marginal farmers, sharecroppers and artisans (such as weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters and goldsmiths).

What does vulnerability mean in social protection? ›

Social Vulnerability relates to the circumstances of a person or community that affect their capacity to anticipate, confront, repair, and recover from the effects of a disaster.

What does vulnerable mean in safety? ›

“Vulnerable” is a word often used in the health and safety world to describe those who are at an increased risk of work injury or disease.

What are the main points of protection of vulnerable groups Act 2007? ›

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 makes provision for checking persons seeking to work with children or vulnerable adults, and for barring those considered to be unsuitable for such posts, whether in paid employment or voluntary work.

What are the three vulnerable groups? ›

  • People with Disabilities.
  • Migrants.
  • Children.

What are the 6 vulnerable groups? ›

These groups may include but are not limited to:
  • Women.
  • People with children.
  • Children.
  • Young people.
  • Older people.
  • Pregnant people.
  • People with disability and impairment.
  • People with mental illness.

What is neglect in the context of protecting vulnerable adults? ›

Neglect occurs when a person deliberately withholds, or fails to provide, suitable and adequate care and support needed by another adult. It may be through a lack of knowledge or awareness, or through a decision not to act when they know the adult in their care needs help.

What are 6 principles? ›

Cialdini's 6 Principles of Influence are reciprocity, commitment or consistency, consensus or social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity.

What are 6 examples of safeguarding? ›

What are the six principles of 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. ...
  • Partnership. ...
  • Accountability.

What are the 12 vulnerable groups? ›

  • Children and adolescents.
  • Women and girls.
  • Persons with disabilities.
  • Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers.
  • LGBTI persons.
  • Older persons.

How do you identify a vulnerable person? ›

Identifying Vulnerable Customers – Types and Warning Signs
  1. Health –any long-term disability, impairment or illness such blindness, deafness, infirmity, speech impairment, age-related conditions, and learning disability.
  2. Life events – major life events such as bereavement, loss of employment or relationship breakdown.
Feb 27, 2020

What are the four abuses leading to vulnerability? ›

They may be vulnerable to control, coercion, undue influence, and manipulation by others.

What are the 10 vulnerable groups? ›

The vulnerable groups that face discrimination include- Women, Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Children, Aged, Disabled, Poor migrants, People living with HIV/AIDS and Sexual Minorities.

Who are the vulnerable victims? ›

A person is vulnerable if they can't protect themselves from harm or exploitation due to their personal or situational circumstances.

What is a real life example of vulnerability? ›

Other examples of vulnerability include these: A weakness in a firewall that lets hackers get into a computer network. Unlocked doors at businesses, and/or. Lack of security cameras.

What is the most vulnerable spot on the human body? ›

The meniscus, the little cushion of shock-absorbing cartilage in the knee, is one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body. Meniscus tears frequently sideline sports stars and even plague sedentary elderly.

What is the meaning of vulnerable person? ›

Definition. A vulnerable person can be defined as someone who belongs to a group within society that is either oppressed or more susceptible to harm. Eagly describes vulnerable persons as persons belonging to populations such as children, senior citizens, low income workers, and asylum seekers.

What is a vulnerable patient? ›

The definition is wide, however this may be regarded as anyone over the age of 18 years who may be unable to protect themselves from abuse, harm or exploitation, which may be by reason of illness, age, mental illness, disability or other types of physical or mental impairment.

What are poor people vulnerable to? ›

Poorer nations and disadvantaged groups within nations are more vulnerable to disasters than the rich nations. It is usually the poor who are among the most vulnerable to famine, malnutrition, and hunger.

How do you protect yourself when you are vulnerable? ›

5 Ways to Feel Less Vulnerable
  1. Stop Giving Away Your Power. ...
  2. Examine Why It's "Good" to Be a Victim. ...
  3. Develop Your Core Self. ...
  4. Align Yourself with the Flow of Evolution, or Personal Growth. ...
  5. Trust in a Power that Transcends Everyday Reality.
Aug 4, 2016

How can you protect yourself from being vulnerable? ›

Now we can address the five things that actually do create security as a personal quality in everyday life.
  1. Stop giving away your power. ...
  2. Examine why you believe it's "good" to be a victim. ...
  3. Develop your core self. ...
  4. Align yourself with the flow of evolution, or personal growth.
Jun 14, 2021

Why you think they are important in protecting vulnerable people from harm and abuse? ›

Safeguarding is so important because abuse is still very much happening, and sadly, it is often these most vulnerable citizens who are commonly victims of abuse. These people deserve to live in a safe environment, away from harm – which makes safeguarding of great importance during their care.

What are the three main areas of abuse? ›

Types of domestic violence or abuse

psychological. physical. sexual.

What are the 7 areas of abuse? ›

Types of abuse include; physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional and mental, financial and spiritual.

What are the three common types of abuse? ›

Types and Signs of Abuse
  • Physical abuse is intentional bodily injury. ...
  • Sexual abuse is nonconsensual sexual contact (any unwanted sexual contact). ...
  • Mental mistreatment or emotional abuse is deliberately causing mental or emotional pain.

What is emotional abuse of vulnerable adults? ›

It may involve: deliberately telling an individual that they are worthless. not giving someone the opportunity to express their views, deliberately silencing them or 'making fun' of what they say. bullying, coercive and controlling behaviour or blackmail.

What is the safeguarding policy? ›

What is a safeguarding policy statement? A safeguarding or child protection policy statement makes it clear what your organisation or group will do to keep children safe. It should set out: your organisation's commitment to protecting all children.

What are the IRB protecting vulnerable populations? ›

The federal regulations require that IRBs give special consideration to protecting the welfare of particularly vulnerable subjects, such as children, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally disabled persons, or economically or educationally disadvantaged persons.

What are 5 examples of safeguarding? ›

Safeguarding concerns: practice examples
  • One-to-one working.
  • Hiring out space.
  • Parent volunteers.
  • Residential trips.
  • Responding to a concern.
  • Noticing a concern.
  • Sexting.
  • Inappropriate behaviour from an adult.
Oct 5, 2021

Why is it important to follow safeguarding policies and procedures? ›

Safeguarding is a vital process that protects children and adults from harm, abuse, and neglect. The safety and wellbeing of adults and children is important as they come into contact with the services that schools and workplaces provide.

How does the IRB protect patients? ›

They review and approve clinical trials taking place within their jurisdiction before the trials can begin. The purpose of an IRB review is to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of participants as subjects of research.

What is the Common Rule and vulnerable populations? ›

The regulations identify populations that are inherently considered vulnerable. Under the Former Common Rule, they were referred to as vulnerable populations and the revised Common Rule uses the term categories of subjects who are vulnerable to coercion or undue influence. 45 CFR 46.111(a)(3) (Common Rule).

Which of the following vulnerable groups currently has specific regulatory protections? ›

Pregnant women, prisoners, and minors have specific sections in the federal regulations that provide additional rules for studying these participants.


1. Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
(One Education)
2. Safeguarding Adults and Children
(Leeds and York PFT)
3. Policies and procedures | Safeguarding information for tutors
(NSPCC Learning)
4. Safeguarding Adults in the Care Home - BVS Training
5. Safeguarding Adults: Lessons from the murder of Steven Hoskin
(Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE))
6. ELI Webinar on the Cross-Border Protection of Vulnerable Adults
(European Law Institute)


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