Safeguarding vulnerable adults from abuse

What is the definition of a vulnerable adult?

A vulnerable adult is defined as

  • a person aged 18 years and over "who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness"
  • who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation (No Secrets, 2000)

A vulnerable adult can be anyone

  • over the age of 18
  • receives social care services or have a personalised budget
  • who has a physical or sensory impairment, learning disability or mental health problem
  • may not be able to protect themselves from abuse or harm

What is abuse?

"A violation of an individuals human and civil rights by any other person or persons (No Secrets 2000) Abuse is behavior towards a person that causes him or her harm, distress, endangers life or violates their rights.  It can happen to both men and women.

There are seven different types of abuse

  • physical
  • emotional/psychological
  • sexual
  • financial
  • discriminatory
  • institutional
  • neglect

Where does abuse happen?

Abuse can happen in any setting

  • someone's own home
  • in a hospital
  • in a day centre
  • in a public place

How do I report abuse?

The Adult Social Care Centre can be contacted on free phone 0800 561 0015.

If a crime is being committed or you are scared for somebody's immediate safety call the police on 999.

If there is no immediate concern for the vulnerable adult's safety, you can contact Satffordshire Police through the new non emergency number 101

If you are unsure whether abuse needs reporting or simply have any other questions you can email

 Click here to view the interagency adult protection procedures

Click here to view the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent adult safeguarding enquiry procedures