Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults in the UK Strategies Policies and Challenges

  • 16 Pages
  • Published On: 21-11-2023


NHS (2018) has defined safeguarding as the action that is taken to ensure the protection of citizen's human rights, health and wellbeing thereby providing them with a living environment that is free from any kind of abuse, harm and neglect. Vulnerable people are more likely to be exposed to a different kind of abuse in society such as psychological, physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse, than that of the normal people. PHE (2018) England has stated that vulnerable adults are the people who cannot take care of themselves and also are in a state of having some kind of disabilities such as physical, mental or emotional disabilities. Vulnerable adults need well-organised safeguarding framework that will protect them from any kind of abuse, neglect and haem. PHE (2018) has mentioned that vulnerable adults do not have the right decision making skill and self-protective ability, therefore are highly exposed to trafficking, exploitation and discrimination. The safeguarding framework developed for the vulnerable people in the UK focuses on providing the over-protective living environment to all the vulnerable adults in which they will not only be free from any types of trafficking, harassment and abuse but also they will be provided with the proper psychological and emotional support that can improve their quality of living. Here the essay is going to present a critical discussion on the concept of safeguarding in which it will critically discuss the purpose of safeguarding framework in the UK and its usefulness for protecting vulnerable adults from abuse, harm and neglect. In this section, the essay will discuss the comprehensive overview of safeguarding with discussing that what strategies are associated with safeguarding for vulnerable adults how these strategies are implemented into practices to provided protection living environment to the vulnerable adults. The essay will discuss the definition, indication and sign different types of abuse. Here the essay will emphasize on social isolation which is the most common abuse that is faced by the vulnerable adults in the society. Then the essay will discuss the policies and practices that are developed by the UK government for protecting vulnerable adults. Here the essay will discuss the policies and legislation that are developed in the UK in terms of protecting the vulnerable group from a different kind of abuse. Then the essay will determine and discuss the factors that pose potential barriers to partnership working while safeguarding vulnerable adults. Here the essay is going to present a conclusion, in which it will summarise the underlying crucial points of the entire discussion.


LO1: Critically analyse the concept of safeguarding

According to NHS England (2018), safeguarding is the framework that is developed to protect vulnerable adults, children and young people from harm, abuse and neglect [NHS, 2018]. IN the UK there is a strong legislative framework for safeguarding vulnerable adults which ensure that the human rights, dignity, health and wellbeing of each adult who are highly vulnerable to abuse, harm and neglect will be protected (White et al. 2015). Although the main purpose of safeguarding vulnerable adults is to provide the overprotective environment to the vulnerable people thereby improving the quality of living, the concept of safeguarding has been presented by many theorists differently. As stated by safeguarding is not just the process or action of protecting vulnerable people from social malpractices such as abuse, discrimination, trafficking and harm, rather it is associated with improving the overall lifestyle, standard living and quality of life of vulnerable people by providing them such protective environment in they are free from all kind of abuse and harassment (Norrie et al. 2016). In the UK, the concept of safeguarding is associated with ensuring that each vulnerable adult, children and young people will receive the care, support and protection that they need to live the quality life. On the contrary Manthorpe et al. (2015) argued although the legislates framework of safeguarding has been developed in the UK a for ensuring protection to the vulnerable adults, there are still cases of neglect, sexual harassment, exploitation, physical abuse, forces slavery, social isolation and discriminate that are commonly experienced by the people having mental or physical disabilities. NHS (2018) has stated the increasing cases of abuse and exploitation on t vulnerable adults in the UK is due to poor implantation of safeguarding legislation in society and lack off public awareness about the importance of safeguarding the vulnerable people. PHE (2018) mentions that vulnerable adults are the people who attend an age of 18 or more and have psychological or physical disabilities or both [PHE, 2018]. Therefore, vulnerable adults are devoid of proper physical ability or right decision-making skill or good problem-solving skill which make them unable to perform the regular activities thereby deteriorating the quality of life. As mentioned by Low et al. (2015), the vulnerable pope is more likely to experiences the abuse, neglect and harm in the society as they are unable to inform their issues or express the needs Infront of their surrounding people. In the context, safeguarding framework is crucial for not only providing the protection with these vulnerable people from social malpractices s such as abuse, discrimination, abuse and social isolation but also improve their psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing to offer them a good quality life, On the contrary, Norrie et al. (2016) argued that, while it comes to protect the vulnerable adults from different kind of abuse the only implementation of the safeguarding policies are not useful, rather there is a need of government initiatives that will measure and assess the issues of vulnerable people in the society their holistic needs. NHS (2018) mentions that UK government has set up a policy, "Out Health, Our Care, our say", which exclusively deals with addressing the issues and pain of the vulnerable adults in the society and determining their needs. Under the initiatives the proper vigilance will be maintained in the areas of vulnerable people, to sense any kind of abuse har and neglect to them. On the contrary, Mackay (2017) argues that sometimes the determination and assessment of the issues that are faced by the vulnerable adjust are not effective to understand the level of abuse they face, as in most of the vulnerable adults and their family members do not reveal actual information about the kind and intensity of abuse that the vulnerable adult face. On this note, to analyse the level of abuse and neglect faced by vulnerable adults is a matter of challenges for the current safeguarding framework in the UK. Development and reformation safeguarding policies and legislation such as Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA), Care Standard Act 2000 and Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Group Act 2004 are expected to be useful to minimise the rate of abuse, bias, social isolation int society. In this context, Lee et al. (2017) argued that safeguard the vulnerable adults cannot be achieved by only developing the effective safeguarding policies, rather there are needs for proper implementation of relevant policies into practices on terms of providing the protective environment to the vulnerable people. Evidence suggests that, in many rural and mi urban areas of southern England and Wales, in which physically and mentally disabled people, residing minority ethnic community face the high level of social exclusion discrimination and trafficking which not only spoil their lives but also makes them emotional and psychologically distressed. NHS (2018), mentioned that, while it comes to conduct the effective implementation of the safeguarding policies and practices, it is important to determine the factors that pose potential barriers on providing proper safeguarding framework to vulnerable adults. These factors are poor communication with vulnerable people, lack of education and knowledge of society people, poor and outdated social trend, rituals and perspectives of community and lack of governmental vigilance on the areas where there is more risk of abuse and social malpractices to vulnerable people. From the overall discussion, it can be stated that the purpose of safeguarding is not just confined to protect the human rights, health and wellbeing of vulnerable people, children and young people, rather it is also associated with determines the issues and needs of people thereby offering such supportive and protective environment in which they can perform their regular activities freely without facing any abuse or harm. In terms of developing a successful safeguarding framework, policymakers need to measure the intensity of abuse that that vulnerable adults face in the community ten implement the relevant safeguarding policies that will not only provide the protection from the abuse but also meet all their holistic needs thereby improving their quality of living. In addition to this safeguarding is also associated with empowering vulnerable adults by improving their psychological and physical strength that will enhance their ability of self-defence.

LO2: Evaluate and abuse the definition, signs and indicators of abuses:

NHS (2018) has defined abuse as the unfair action and harmful activities that are carried out to cause the intention of injures and harm to people [NHS, 2018]. Vulnerable adjust are more likely to experience a different kind of abuse in the society such as physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse, that not only pose an adverse impact on their physical and mental health bust also minimise the standard of living. As mentioned by Szilassy et al. (2017), in the case of vulnerable adults, one individual can face more than types of abuse. Physical abuse is characterised by activities which are made intentionally to cause physical harm and injuries to people, especially to vulnerable adults. The example of physical abuse is assault, slapping, hitting, biting, hair pulling, rough handling, boring and scalding. PHE (2018) has mentioned that there are many cases of physical abuse such as physical punishments such as hitting, slapping and burning of the vulnerable adults residing in the ethnic minority community in the rural and suburban areas in England. As mentioned by Hood et al. (2016) physical abuse sometimes can be very dangerous that causes lifetime illness such as paralysis even death in some case. Psychological or emotional abuse is characterised by billy, discrimination, bias, social isolation, marginalisation and providing constraints on giving the social and governmental facilities to the vulnerable adults. Sexual abuse is human trafficking, rape and unwanted touching. As mentioned by Hood et al. (2016), in the UK, there are many cases of sexual abuse experienced by vulnerable women residing in the poor and deprived communities. Financial abuse is another most common types of abuse which include, forging signature, financial exploitation, misuse and stealing of money and improper use of the guardianship. As mentioned by Graham et al. (2016), detection of signs of abuse in case of vulnerable adults is sometimes difficult and challenging as the victim is not able to prove any the proper information about what happened to them. On the other hand, in many cases, the family members and parents of vulnerable adults also hide the actual information regarding the abuse due to the fear of facing further harassment by the abuser. NHS (2018) has mentioned, while it comes to detect the symptoms of abuse experienced by the vulnerable people, proper vigilance, and tracking system needs to be set in the abuse-prone area to sense the risk of abuse to the vulnerable people. In case of detecting the physical abuse in vulnerable adults, health and social care staffs need to check whether there are any cuts, burns, bruises, grip or restraint mark and black spots in the body of vulnerable people. As argued by Szilassy et al. (2017) sometimes the physical injuries that are caused in the covered areas of the body in vulnerable adults are hidden from the safeguarding staffs which the interfere to safeguard policies to promote the psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing of vulnerable people. Detecting psychological and emotional abuse in case of a vulnerable adult is highly challenging for safeguarding staffs as there is no physical sign of abuse on victims' body. PHE (2018) has mentioned that, while detecting the psychological or emotional abuse, safeguarding staffs need to observe the behaviours, activities and ways of interacting with other people of the vulnerable adults, which will assist the staffs to determines whether there is any sign of low self-esteem, fear, trauma, personal and behavioural changes and depression [PHE, 2018]. As mentioned by Hood et al. (2017), vulnerable adults who face the psychological abuse such as social isolation, discrimination, bully and bias, generally show the sign of depression, anxiety ad absence of mind ad suicidal approaches. The sign of financial abuse is the missing of the valuable financial document from the homes of vulnerable audits, forged signature, suspicious fund transfer to the third party, hacking of account details and unpaid bills. As mentioned by Butler and Manthorpe, (2016), while it comes to detect the indicator or signs of financial abuse is highly challenging in case of the health ad social care staffs, as most of the guardian and parents of vulnerable adults do not provide their consent to them to inspect the financial documents and account statement of the vulnerable individuals. PHE (2018) has stated that UK government has reformed the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (Commencement No 1) order 2007, under which the social care officials would not interfere with the autonomy and confidentiality of the vulnerable adults while detecting the signs of any types of abuse to them. In this context the activities performed to detect the indicators of the abuse will be as per the consent as well as the best interest of the vulnerable adults and their guardians. Among different kind of abuse that vulnerable adults face the most common types of abuse is social isolation. As mentioned by Hood et al. (2017), in recent years social isolation of vulnerable adults becomes a matter of great concern that pose adverse impact not only of the overall psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing of the vulnerable people, but also impact adversely on their quality of life. NHS (2018) has defined the social isolation as the social malpractice which poses potential constraints on providing any kind of social and government facilities to vulnerable people. Due to social exclusion, vulnerable people are devoid of their rights, governmental facilities and social support, that poses adverse impact in their social, financial, physical and psychological status [NHS, 2018]. PHE (2018), has mentioned that social isolation has adverse health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, schizophrenia and hallucination in case of vulnerable adults that deteriorate their overall quality of life [PHE, 2018]. Evidence suggests that social isolation of vulnerable adults enhance their vulnerability towards chronic and life-limiting illness such as heart attack, cardiovascular disease, coronary arterial disease, diabetes ad pulmonary illness. As mentioned by Mackay (2017), people who are physically or psychologically disabled are generally neglected and avoided by the society thereby restricting them to perform any of their societal roles. For example, people with mental illness such as dementia are generally not invited in any kind of social gathering or n they are not informed about the governmental and social facilities, which interfere with the protection of the human rights. In this context, Hood et al. (2017) argued that not only with society but also the social isolation is also faced by the venerable adults at their homes, in which they are excluded from all their basic rights and facilities by the family members. For example, there are many cases, in which family members do not take the vulnerable adult in any function of social occasion to avoid the chances of facing an embarrassing situation. PHE (2018) has mentioned in a report that, social isolation of vulnerable people enhances their prevalence to cognitive declines which is associated with reduces decision-making ability, wrong thoughts, poor problem-solving skill and lack of critical thinking skill. Social isolation is a type of psychological abuse that causes severe emotional and psychological distress in them which not only offers them the loneliness but also develop weird and wrong thought in them that leads them toward the wrong direction, such as in many cases vulnerable people attempt to commit suicide or sometimes, they cause physical harm to themselves.

LO3: Discuss the policies that underpin the safeguarding adults:

In the UK there is a well-constructed legislative framework that ensures the protection of human rights, health and wellbeing of vulnerable people. Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Group Act 2004 is recently reformed by the UK government which ensure protection to the human rights of the vulnerable adults suffering from mental or physical disabilities or both. The Department of Health (DOH), UK has also set up Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)under which the hg skilled safeguarded staffs work on assessing the health needs of t vulnerable people and also determines the types and intensity of the abuse they face in the society. As argued by Lee et al. (2017) although the safeguarding agencies and comminates are set up by UK government in many areas to ensure the protection of the vulnerable adults then also the poor implementation of the safeguarding policies into practices and fewer care staffs un these agencies there is a sharp increase in the cases of abuse and neglect to the vulnerable people, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas of England and Wales. Under Care Act (2015), health and social care providers need to ensure that they are enough skilled to determine the types of abuse faced by the venerable adults thereby determining their current health needs (Mackay, 2017). Under this act, care providers need to ensure that they the autonomy, right s and dignity of the vulnerable people are respected while providing them holistic and person-centred care in terms of improving her quality of life. Under Menta Health Act (1983), health and social care staffs need to ensure that people suffering from mental illness with be provided with a protective environment in which they will free from any kind of social isolation, discrimination, abuse, harm and neglect. As argued by Hood et al. (2016), while it comes to protect the vulnerable adult suffering for the mental illness they only provide the protectives environment to them is not enough to improve their quality life, rather the care providers also need to emphasize on improving the cognitive and physical status of these adults thereby improving their overall decision making, thoughts and problem-solving skill that will help them to live their life independently. Under NHS Community Care Act, NHS staffs will determine whether vulnerable adults suffer from any kind of abuse or they are at the risk of any types of harm by family members or neighbours or by the society. Under the disability discrimination act (1995), vulnerable adults will not be excluded from their rights, social and government facilities due to their disability. These acts ensure that vulnerable adult will be provided with fair and equal opportunities therefore will be free from any kind of discrimination and bias n relation to their disability. Care Standards Act (Extension of Protection of Vulnerable Adults) regulation 2004 makes it obligatory for all the social and health care providers to ensure that the level of protection to the vulnerable adults will be set up based on their needs, which will offer them a life an over-protective environment in which they are free from any kind of abuse and harm. In this context, Norrie et al. (2016) argued that there is the difference in the needs of different vulnerable people due to the different kind of disabilities they have, which pose changes on the care provider to make ensure the level of protection provided to the vulnerable people will be relevant to provide the full protection from social malpractices as well as to meet their holistic needs. Under Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (barred list prescribed information) regulation 2008, UK government has ensured that all the vulnerable adults will be provided with protection from abuse, discrimination and harm in the community ad home setting. Under this act, care providers need to not only consider and determines the abuse and harm that the vulnerable adults experience in the community but also determine the neglect, abuse and harassment that they face at their homes due to the ill-treatment caused by the family members. In this context, Low et al. (2015) argued that although effective statutory framework has been set in the UK for determining the abuse and harm in the society towards the vulnerable adults, many factors pose potential barriers on effective implementation of these acts such as lack of skilled of care staffs, lack of professional knowledge and conduct of the care providers while determined the abuse faced by vulnerable people and poor infrastructure as well as lack of resources to the care providers that make them unable to provide the level of protection and psychological support that the vulnerable people need. Equality act 2010 providers assurance to all the vulnerable adults in the UK that they will receive equal and fair opportunities into the community while it comes to grab the social and governmental facilities. Under this, any kind of discrimination or unfair practices towards providing the social and governmental facilities to the vulnerable people are strictly prohibited. Sexual Offences Act 2003 (SOA 2003) strictly prohibits all kind of sexual abuse on vulnerable adults such as rape, sexual exploitation and sex slavery.

LO4'. Identify the factors that assist and inhibit the partnership work while working with the vulnerable adults

While involved in partnership working to provide proper protection to the vulnerable adults, care provides need to considers many factors that can assist the inhibit the overall process. These factors are as follows:


Effective communication acts as the potential facilitators of partnership working with vulnerable adults. As mentioned by Low et al. (2015) through maintaining effective communication caregivers can maintain the transparent information delivery system in the partnership working process. Caregivers must be highly trained about what types of communication need to be used to make useful communication with vulnerable adults. For example, in case of vulnerable adults with speaking and hearing disabilities, care providers will use the non-verbal communication process, such as use the proper sign and facial expression that will assist them to communicate with disabled people and collect the important information regarding the abuse and harm they faced. Lack of effective communication acts as the potential barriers in carrying out partnership working with vulnerable people (Norrie et al. 2016). Lack of skill of the care providers in terms of managing effective communication, poor support as well as cooperation from the family members of the vulnerable adult to provide the information regarding the abuse and harm the vulnerable adults face and poor technologies and infrastructure that are used in recording the responses of vulnerable adults are the common barriers to maintain effective communication with vulnerable people while working in partnership with them.

Lack of skill:

Lack of skill of the care providers to involve the vulnerable adults, their family members and their relatives and friends into the care and protection framework set for vulnerable adults. As mentioned by Mackay (2017), care providers must have the presentable skill, good interactive and communication skill and good decision m-making skill that are important for maintaining effective partnership working to provide the best car ad protection to the vulnerable adults. Therefore the lack of skill of the care providers in maintaining effecters commutation with the vulnerable people and their family members will interfere with the success of partnership working.

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Lack of times ca be the potential barriers to partnership working in safeguarding vulnerable adults (Lee et al. 2017). The huge workload and time constraints make the care provides unable to make comprehensive discussion with the family members and relatives the vulnerable adults about the harm and abuse they face in the community as well as in-home setting.


Lack of resources and poor infrastructures of safeguarding framework, pose potential barriers to maintaining effective partnership working (Szilassy et al. 2017). Lack of technical backup, outdated techniques of data collection, lack of modern technologies in collecting accurate data from vulnerable adults and their family members, can affect the overall outcomes of the partnership working.

Conflict and disagreement:

Differences the decision making and perception of people who are involved in the partnership working to safeguard vulnerable adults cause a high level of conflict ad is management which affects the overall success of partnership working.


From the above-mentioned discussion, it can be concluded that safeguarding is the process of providing the protectives environment to the vulnerable in which they will free from any kind of abuse, harm and neglect. Vulnerable adults are the people who attain the age 18 or more and have some kind of disabilities such as physical or psychological disabilities that makes them unable to perform their regular activities. Therefore, people with physical and mental disabilities are highly prevalent to different types of risk such as abuse, destination, unfair practices and neglect. In this context safeguarding is the process that protects these vulnerable adults from any kind f harm and abuse in their society and at their home. There re different kind of abuse that is experienced by vulnerable adults such as physical, mental, emotional and financial abuse. One person can face more than one abuse, which minimises their quality of living by posing adverse impact on their psychology and physical health. Several legislations are developed by the UK government to provide proper protection to the vulnerable adults and provides them with an environment as well as society in which they can lead their life freely without having the fear of any abuse or harm. Several barriers pose potential constraints of the overall success of the partnership working in the safeguarding process. These barriers are lack of effective commination, lack of skill of care providers, poor resources management, Lack of times and lack of fund.

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