Safeguarding Themes

What are abuse and neglect?

This section considers the different types and patterns of abuse and neglect and the different circumstances in which they may take place. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but an illustrative guide as to the sort of behaviour which could give rise to a safeguarding concern. This chapter also contains a number of illustrative case studies showing the action that was taken to help the adult stay or become safe.

Local authorities should not limit their view of what constitutes abuse or neglect, as they can take many forms and the circumstances of the individual case should always be considered; although the criteria at paragraph 14.2 will need to be met before the issue is considered as a safeguarding concern. Exploitation, in particular, is a common theme in the following list of the types of abuse and neglect.
Incidents of abuse may be one-off or multiple, and affect one person or more. Professionals and others should look beyond single incidents or individuals to identify patterns of harm, just as the Care Quality Commission, as the regulator of service quality, does when it looks at the quality of care in health and care services. Repeated instances of poor care may be an indication of more serious problems and of what we now describe as organisational abuse. In order to see these patterns it is important that information is recorded and appropriately shared.

Patterns of abuse vary and include:

  • serial abusing in which the perpetrator seeks out and ‘grooms’ individuals. Sexual abuse
  • sometimes falls into this pattern as do some forms of financial abuse;
  • long-term abuse in the context of an ongoing family relationship such as domestic
  • violence between spouses or generations or persistent psychological abuse; or
  • opportunistic abuse such as theft occurring because money or jewellery has been left lying around.