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Who could be at risk?

Under the Care Act (2014), an adult at risk is someone over 18 years old who:

  • has care and support needs
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • as a result of their care and support needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it

If someone has care and support needs but is not currently receiving care or support from a health or care service, they may still be an adult at risk.

An adult at risk may therefore be a person who:

  • is old and frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment
  • has a learning disability
  • has a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment
  • has mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder
  • has a long term illness/condition
  • misuses substances or alcohol
  • is a carer such as a family member/friend who provides personal assistance and care to adults and is subject to abuse
  • is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is in need of care and support

Although, anyone can be at risk of abuse or exploitation. 

It is one of the responsibilities of the Torbay and Devon Safeguarding Adults Board to make sure that health and social care agencies prioritise the wellbeing of all individuals living in Devon. This applies to everyone, not only those people with care and support needs who are already engaged with health and social care services.

Who can carry out the abuse?

It is important to remember that anyone can carry out abuse or neglect, including:

  • partners
  • family, friends or neighbours
  • another adult at risk
  • professionals, volunteers and people paid to provide care services
  • strangers
  • colleagues
  • a manager
  • a member of a place of worship

Most individuals who commit abuse are usually people already known to the adult at risk. However, some people will deliberately exploit or harm individuals who they see as easy targets.

Where can the abuse take place?

Abuse can take place in any setting, including:

  • a person’s own home
  • a friend or relative’s home
  • in hospital
  • at a care home
  • at a day service
  • at an educational establishment
  • in a public place
  • in a community setting

For advice on safer recruitment, please see the information provided on our DBS Checks page.