This section of the Governance Toolkit examines safeguarding vulnerable people and outlines practical steps to ensure your charity is doing this effectively. Read the guide and then check your understanding by taking the assessment available at the bottom of this page. You do not need to submit this assessment to the ACNC - it is optional and designed to help you measure your understanding of the topic and identify areas for training or improvement. Safeguarding is protecting the welfare and human rights of people that are, in some way, connected with your charity or its work — particularly people that may be at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation. The definition of safeguarding used to be narrower — it used to refer to protecting children or vulnerable adults.
The Definition of 'Vulnerable Adults' and the Services They Receive
From the perspective of UHS, a vulnerable adult is a patient who is or may be for any reason unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation. It is important to note that no mention of capacity or competence appears in our definition. Whilst it is clear that any patient who lacks capacity will by definition be vulnerable, many patients with capacity may still be unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation; often due to the infirmity that lead them to become patients in the first place. Please also note that a vulnerable adult with capacity is perfectly entitled to refuse to let us pass on their personal details to other agencies.
The Definition of ‘Vulnerable Adults’ and the Services They Receive
Professional Reference articles are designed for health professionals to use. You may find the Safeguarding Adults article more useful, or one of our other health articles. Adult abuse is defined as a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate actions, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to a vulnerable person [ 1 ]. Safeguarding adults is about protecting those at risk of harm.
Many people over the age of 65 years do not have care and support needs and are able to protect themselves. For one thing, it would seem perverse that a 64 year old with advanced dementia or a serious physical disability would not have access to safeguarding services, while a 66 year old with full decision-making ability and no physical limitations would. The affected adult must also be vulnerable; the vulnerability must stem from certain prescribed factors; and the vulnerability must render them unable to protect themselves. It might be difficult to establish reasonable cause to suspect all of these matters before an investigation commences. For example, it may be unclear, without specialist medical advice, if the person is in fact unable to protect themselves, or if they have chosen not to take steps to protect themselves.