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Organisational abuse

Organisational abuse is the inability to provide a good level of care to an individual or group of people in a care setting such as a hospital or care home, or in a person’s own home if they receive care assistance there. It may be a one-off incident, repeated incidents or on-going ill-treatment. It could be due to neglect or poor care because of the arrangements, processes and practices in an organisation. This could include:

  • a lack of dignity or respect in a care setting
  • rigid routines or processes organised to meet staff needs rather than the individuals
  • disrespectful attitudes towards individuals receiving care
  • a culture of abusive behaviour or tolerance of abusive behaviour
  • repeated failure to prevent  abuse, or neglect within a service; including incorrect use of restraint, isolation, or unauthorised deprivations of liberty

These may include:

  • treating adults like children
  • strict, regimented or inflexible routines or schedules for daily activities such as meal times, bed / awakening times, bathing / washing, going to the toilet
  • withholding or refusing necessary medication

Quality of Care

Safeguarding is not a substitute for:

  • provider’s responsibilities to provide safe and high quality care and support
  • commissioners regularly assuring themselves of the safety and effectiveness of commissioned services
  • the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ensuring that regulated providers comply with the fundamental standards of care or by taking enforcement action
  • the core duties of the police to prevent and detect crime and protect life and property


Getting help


Mencap offer advice and support to people with a learning disability.

0808 808 1111

Action on Elder Abuse

Action on Elder Abuse work to protect, and prevent the abuse of, vulnerable older adults and by doing so we also protect other adults a risk of abuse. They operate specialist helplines for care providers, providing whistleblowing advice and support to residents, relatives and staff.

080 8808 8141

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. They make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care.