Abuse is action that harms another person in some way.

Abuse of adults with care and support needs is where someone in a position of trust hurts, harms or causes someone distress. Abuse is unacceptable; everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to live free of abuse or mistreatment, whether they live on their own, live with others, live in a care/nursing care home, attend a day centre or are in hospital.

Types of abuse may be one-off or multiple incidents. Repeated instances of poor care may be an indication of more serious problems and of what we now describe as organisational abuse.

Abuse can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm, or exploitation.

The person responsible for the abuse is very often well known to the person being abused and could be; a spouse; partner; son; daughter; relative; friend; carer or neighbour; a paid carer or volunteer; a health worker; social care or other worker; another resident or service user; an occasional visitor or someone who is providing a service. It can be caused by a person deliberately intending to harm or neglect, failing to take the right action or through their ignorance.  It can involve one or a number of people. abuse is not always intentional but it causes harm and so needs to be stopped.

Further information is available in the ‘Safeguarding adults: multi-agency policy and procedure for the West Midlands’ see:  http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/downloads/file/23004/west_midlands_adult_safeguarding_policy_and_procedures

What Is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is about making people aware of their rights, protecting them and preventing abuse; this used to be known as Adult Protection.
Who Adult Does Safeguarding Apply To?

The Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to look into adult safeguarding concerns in relation to an adult (18 years and over) who:

Has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting such needs),these adults may for example be:

  • Frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment, or a combination of these.
  • Have a learning disability
  • Have a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment
  • Have mental ill health or needs arising from dementia.
  • Have a long-term illness/condition
  • Users of substances or alcohol, where decision making ability may have been affected.
  • And;
  • Is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect;
  • And;
  • As a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.


What Sort of Abuse Do We Mean?

Abuse is any action that harms another person and can include the following:

  • Physical abuse– including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions.
  • Domestic violence– including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so called ‘honour’ based violence.  Sandwell has  signed up to the West Midlands Domestic Violence and Abuse Standards, aimed at improving services, more information can be found at sandwell.gov.uk/domesticabuse.


Or for help and support, contact Black Country Women’s Aid on 0121 552 6448

or call the free 24-hour national domestic violence helpline on 0808 2000 247. Always call 999 in an emergency.


  • Sexual abuse– including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.
  • Psychological abuse– including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.
  • Financial or material abuse-including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits. More information about scamming can be found here

Modern slavery – encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Sandwell can be described as a hotspot for Modern Day Slavery with its good transport links, cheap housing and industry requiring labor. It has been estimated that within a mile of West Bromwich Police Station, there are 95 victims of MDS. For more information see:


  • Discriminatory abuse– including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
  • Organisational abuse– including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.
  • Neglect and acts of omission– including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
  • Self-neglect– this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and can include behaviour such as hoarding. Self–neglect can be quite complex in nature and is often managed in different ways to the abuse or neglect of others. People who self-neglect may be helped by care management teams and other professionals working together. It is important that people who self-neglect can be helped to understand long and short term risks, and ways of minimising those risks. Sandwell has adopted regional self- neglect guidance which can be found here.
  • Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board have also produced this short film about hoarding.

Where does abuse happen?

Abuse can happen at any time and almost anywhere, for example:

  • In someone’s own home
  • In the home of a carer friend, neighbour or other acquaintance
  • At a day centre
  • In a care home
  • In hospital or other health setting
  • At work
  • At college
  • In a public place


Who might be an abuser?

Abusers may not be easy to identify and can be:

  • A current or previous partner,
  • A relative or friend or acquaintance
  • A volunteer
  • A Paid staff or professional, including those who may work in a position of trust
  • Another service user
  • A neighbour
  • A Carer
  • A stranger


·  Action on Elder Abuse
Helpline: 0808 808 8141

· Care Quality Commission (CQC)
General enquiries: 03000 616161

· Forced Marriage Unit (at the Foreign Office)
Tel: 020 788 0151

· Dignity in Care

· Hate Crime/True Vision

· Office of the Public Guardian
Telephone: 0300 456 0300