An introduction to the definition of adults at risk - who is most likely to be abused?

An introduction to the definition of adults at risk - who is most likely to be abused?

Posted on Jul 29, 2016

An introduction to the definition of adults at risk - who is most likely to be abused?



Safeguarding means protecting people's health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

Latest government figures show that in the year ending March 2014, there were a staggering 104,050 adult safeguarding referrals in England alone – and that’s just the number reported to authorities. The reality of the situation is sadly a lot more severe.

Anyone over the age of 18 with any type of vulnerability can be subject to abuse. It’s a common misconception that the only vulnerable adults are the elderly, however, of the 104,050 adult safeguarding referrals we mentioned above, only 63% related to those over 65.


Definition of adults at risk

The Care Act 2014 defines an adult at risk as:

  • Someone over the age of 18 who has a need for care and support
  • Someone who is experiencing or is at risk of neglect or abuse

As a result of the above needs, the adult is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect, or the risk of it.

The term ‘Adult at Risk’ is now more commonly used in place of ‘Vulnerable Adult’, as ‘Vulnerable Adult’ may wrongly imply that some of the fault for the abuse lies with the victim.


Who is most likely to be abused?

An example of an adult who may be more susceptible to risk and abuse is…

  • Someone who has a learning disability, physical disability and/ or a sensory impairment
  • Someone who is experiencing domestic violence, or is a victim of a forced marriage or modern slavery
  • Someone who misuses substances or alcohol
  • Someone that has a mental health condition or disorder including eating, hording or personality disorder
  • Someone who is elderly and frail due to ill-health, physical disability or impairment of their mental health (including dementia)


Raising awareness and staff training

It is important that we are aware of the prevalence of adult abuse and that we know what to do if we suspect it, and how to report it.

Adult safeguarding training ensures we understand forms of adult abuse, what to look out for and how and when to act. Correct training should give an understanding of what an ‘Adult at Risk’ is, and that some adults are more susceptible to abuse than others.

All training should be in line with current law and legislation, and should be updated when new laws come into place.


Training with flick

flick's adult safeguarding course is included within our subscription and covers all the below key areas:

  • The definition of an adult at risk
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect
  • Self-Neglect
  • Institutional abuse
  • Responding to disclosures
  • The Care Act 2014


Subscribing with flick offers access to all flick courses, plus downloadable guides and resources in the flick library. So why not sign up today?


Adults at risk


Related articles

Why is adult safeguarding training important? Why is adult safeguarding training important?

Forced marriage – what is it? Modern slavery – what is it?

What is forced marriage and what are the effects? What is forced marriage and what are the effects?

What should I do about domestic abuse? What should I do about domestic abuse?



Related courses

adults at risk adults at risk

modern slavery and trafficking modern slavery and trafficking

Forced marriage awareness training forced marriage awareness






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