Adults at risk of harm have the right to be supported and protected from harm.
It's everyone's job to make sure that adults at risk get help when they need it.
Every individual has a right to:
- a life free from fear
- be treated with dignity
- have their choice respected and not be forced to do anything against their will
Some adults at risk can be totally dependent on their parents, guardians or carers. They may or may not know it, and it can be hard for them to ask for help.
This can be happening within any kind of family, anywhere in West Lothian.
What to do and who to contact
If you know, believe or suspect that an adult may be at risk of harm you should speak to someone about it as soon as you can.
If you or the person being harmed is in immediate danger you should ring the police on 999, for non-emergency Police Scotland can be contacted on 101.
If it is less urgent, you can contact:
Adult Social Care Enquiry Team
Monday to Thursday (Office Hours) 8.30am - 5pm
Friday 8.30am - 4pm
- Tel: 01506 284848
Outside office hours
Social Care Emergency Team
- Tel: 01506 281028/9
Broxburn Social Work Centre (Adult Services Age 16-65)
- Tel: 01506 284440
Bathgate Social Work Centre (Older People's Services 65+)
- Tel: 01506 284700
Livingston Social Work Centre(Adult Services Age 16-65)
- Tel: 01506 282252
- Tel: 101
- Tel: in an emergency call 999
What is harm?
"Harm" includes all hurtful conduct and, in particular, includes:
- Physical harm - hitting, pushing, shaking, restricting freedom
- Sexual harm - sexual activity without consent, sexual harassment, photographing
- Financial harm - adversely affecting property, rights or interests (such as theft, fraud or extortion)
- Neglect - denial of medical care, food, heating, privacy
- Self-harm - If the adult engages or is likely to engage in conduct which causes self harm
- Discriminatory harm - against age, race, culture, disability, gender, background or sexual orientation
- Psychological harm - such as causing fear, alarm or distress, threatening behaviour, verbal abuse, controlling or bullying
Who are Adults at Risk?
"Adult" means an individual aged 16 years or over. Adults at risk have additional support needs and may be dependent on others. They might be:
- Older people or people with illnesses who are dependent on the help of others
- People with learning disabilities
- People with a physical or sensory impairment
- People with mental health problems
- People unable to protect themselves from serious harm or being taken advantage of
- People who are controlled or suppressed by dominant partners
Most adults with additional support needs manage to live their lives comfortably and securely, either independently or with assistance from caring relatives, friends, neighbours, professionals or volunteers. However, for a small number, dependence on someone may produce conflict, exploitation and harm.
Possible signs of harm are:
- Physical harm - unusual or unexplained injuries, a delay in seeking treatment for injuries or illness, sudden increase in confusion, unexplained deterioration of health or appearance
- Sexual harm - unexplained changes of behaviour, becoming anxious or withdrawn, fear of another person
- Financial harm - unexplained debt, not paying bills, another person using the adult's possessions, bank account or property without his or her informed consent
- Neglect - not having their basic needs met, such as adequate food or heating not being provided with adequate information about their rights or entitlements, or being misinformed, the adult at risk not receiving appropriate care
- Self-harm signs may include unexplained injuries and signs of depression or low-self esteem (such as burning or cutting skin, punching themselves or an eating disorder)
- Discriminatory harm - prejudicial actions or remarks to the adult at risk about age, gender, disability, race, colour, sexual or religious orientation
- Psychological harm - people being anxious or afraid, misuse of medication - not giving medicines properly, unexplained changes of behaviour, becoming anxious or withdrawn, fear of another person, pressure by family or professionals to have someone moved into or taken out of care, hostile or unkind behaviour by a person
What is financial harm? Financial harm can be defined as follows:
"Financial harm can lead to someone feeling under pressure to hand over money or possessions. It can involve exploitation of property or welfare benefits or stopping someone getting their money or possessions, stealing, cheating or fraud. It includes an adult being under pressure to re-write a will. (definition from Action Against Harm website)
"The intentional or opportunistic appropriation of the income, capital or property of a vulnerable person through theft, fraud, deception, undue influence or exploitation ; including the hoarding of a vulnerable person's resources for future gain which is also a form of exploitation and may be associated with culpable neglect" Brown 2003 (quoted by Scottish Government)
Anyone can be the victim of a fraud and criminals can be very clever at targeting more vulnerable or older people through e mails, post or telephone. In some families it may be adults who are facing their own problems such as alcohol or drug misuse who may seek to take financial advantage of more vulnerable or older family members. It is also important to remember that financial harm can also be connected to other forms of harm such as neglect and psychologically abuse.
If anyone becomes aware of an adult who is being financially harmed then an adult protection referral can be made to the Social Work Department.
Report a scam to Action Fraud. They provide a special service, alongside Victim Support, for carers to report scams on behalf of a vulnerable victim. The victim must be one of the following:
- under 17
- have a mental health problem or learning difficulty
- have a physical disability
Scams can be reported on the Action Fraud website or by telephone on 0300 123 2040