PROTECTING VULNERABLE PEOPLE
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Reporting vulnerability or abuse which is either affecting you personally, or voicing your concerns about the welfare of someone else, can bring up a lot of difficult emotions and uncertainty. You may ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing, or how you can be sure someone is getting the help they need. You may also question whether you’re doing enough to help the person or yourself.
As difficult as reporting this can be, it’s important that we help you get the support that you or someone needs. Abuse cases can go unnoticed for long periods, so we believe it is important that everyone feels able to discuss their concerns with a practice clinician.
A number of factors make people vulnerable where they may not be able to protect themselves against significant harm or from being taken advantage of. This may include young or elderly people, those with mental health issues, physical disabilities, learning disabilities or gender. They may also be individuals at risk because they are socially isolated or are dependent on others (carer).
Where abuse of a vulnerable person is suspected the welfare of the patient takes priority. In deciding whether to disclose concerns to a third party or other agency, the GP will assess the risk to the patient. Ideally this will where possible be discussed with the patient first and consent obtained. If this is not possible, or in the case of emergency where serious harm is to be prevented, the patient’s doctor will balance the need to protect the patient with the duty of confidentiality before deciding whether to refer. If you have concerns about this please speak to us.
FORMS OF ABUSE
Abuse may be deliberate or caused by poor standards of care or lack of knowledge, understanding or training. Abuse can take place anywhere; it may be a regular, occasional or even a single event. A vulnerable person may experience more than one type of abuse.
Physical Abuse: Slapping, hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing, unapproved use of physical restraint or restriction, the use of force or threat of force, harsh manual handling (including inappropriate use of hoists) and misuse of medication.
Psychological / Mental / Emotional Abuse: Blame, insults, humiliation, controlling, intimidation, bullying, harassment, being stopped from seeing other people, being locked away, verbal abuse, swearing, threats, using tone and volume of voice to intimidate, body language and denying the right of the person to make his or her own decisions.
Financial Abuse and/or Exploitation: Theft of money, property, possessions, insurance, removal or control of the vulnerable adult’s finances without permission and blackmail or be taken advantage of.
Sexual abuse: (This can be any type of sexual or indecent act or activity) Rape, exposure to pornography and any physical sexual touching which the vulnerable adult does not want or does not truly understand and where the person is unable to give informed consent.
Neglect: Leaving the person unattended for long periods, lack of care including food, warmth, medication and access to medical treatment, failing to attend to physical needs such as toileting, dressing and washing and failing to provide access to appropriate health or social care services.
Self Neglect: Risk may also arise from the vulnerable person’s own lack of self-care or risky behavior. Individuals have the right to choose their lifestyle and take risks and therefore only self-neglect should only be considered if a vulnerable person is refusing essential services without which their needs cannot be met and with the result that their health and safety are at seriously risk.
Discrimination: On the grounds of race, faith or religion, age, disability, gender, and sexual preference.
INDICATIONS OF ABUSE
Indications may include:
- Physical signs such as bruising, burns, falls, malnutrition and falls
- Psychological indicators such as anxiety, being withdrawn, changes in personality
- Domestic signs such as lack of access to own money, inadequate living conditions or confinement to one room in their own home, lack of freedom to move outside the home or on their own, obstacles preventing visitors
- Health & well-being signs such as inappropriate controlling carers or family members, frequent changes of GP, lack of aids when needed
IF YOU ARE AFFECTED OR SUSPECT THAT SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS PLEASE SPEAK TO US IN CONFIDENCE .