Why is adult safeguarding training important?

Why is adult safeguarding training important?

Posted on Oct 23, 2015

Why is adult safeguarding training important?


  • There are several misconceptions about what adult abuse is (and isn’t)
  • Guidance changes so staying up-to-date is crucial
  • For certain organisations, there is a mandatory requirement to carry out the training


Everybody has a right to live their life free from violent and degrading treatment. However, some groups in society are more vulnerable to certain forms of abuse.


Awareness of adult safeguarding (or lack of…)

We are very aware when it comes to the subject of child protection, there are lots of charities advertising what we need to do when it comes to reporting child abuse, most famously the NSPCC. They are on our television, radio and in various publications via advertising. Yet when it comes to adult abuse, it’s hard to name charities that are as strong an advocate as the NSPCC are for children.

I guess the reasons for this are simply that vulnerability of adults takes countless forms and falls under so many different categories and circumstances, that no one organisation can possibly act for them all.

So, we mostly find that charities for adults focus on specific needs: Mind (mental health), Age UK (elderly), Mencap and Scope (learning and physical disability) and for us more locally, Circles Network.

Specific awareness campaigns from the above mentioned charities can help raise awareness to areas of adult safeguarding. Mind’s ‘Time to change’ campaign was all about ending the stigma and discrimination faced by those who experience mental health problems. You can look at the campaign here.

Or Scope’s campaign to #EndTheAwkward campaign:



To prove this point, we googled ‘adult safeguarding charities’ and tried to look for charities dedicated to adult safeguarding as a whole, in reality, all we really found were charities' safeguarding policies and more child protection charities (and people selling training).


Recognising adult abuse and knowing how to act

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

As with child abuse, there are many forms of adult abuse. These include, but are not limited to, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, self-neglect and institutional abuse. Any good form of adult safeguarding training will explain what each type of abuse is.  It should also outline the signs, symptoms and indicators of abuse and what to look out for, as well as summarising key legislation and guidance.




What does adult safeguarding involve?

Safeguarding means protecting people's health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. The term ‘Safeguarding Adults’ has been widely adopted, but this area of work is still sometimes known as: Adult Protection, Protection of Vulnerable Adults, POVA, Protecting Vulnerable Adults, Vulnerable Adults and Adults at Risk.

What is an ‘Adult at Risk’?

The term ‘Adult at Risk’ is now more commonly used as ‘vulnerable adult’ may wrongly imply that some of the fault for the abuse lies with the adult who may have been abused.

The Care Act 2014 defines an adult at risk as someone over the age of 18 who has need for care and support and who is experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect. As a result of these needs, they are unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect – or the risk of it.


Common misconceptions about adult safeguarding

There are many misconceptions when it comes to adult abuse, one of which is that it’s not very widespread. This is incorrect. The latest government statistics show in the year ending March 2014, there were 104,050 adult safeguarding referrals in England alone. This figure is only those that were reported – the reality is this is much, much higher.

Another misconception is that adult abuse only happens to the elderly. This too, is incorrect. 37% of the 104,050 adult safeguarding referrals related to adults that were under the age of 65.

Adult safeguarding doesn’t apply to me or my organisation

You might be surprised about this as changes in legislation in the last year have raised the profile of certain issues. A specific example of this is The Care Act 2014, which was introduced in April 2015, which includes self-neglect as a form of abuse for the first time.


Self-neglect as an adult safeguarding concern

An example of self-neglect, and one we may have seen before but not included under the general umbrella of adult safeguarding, is hoarding. Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a pattern of behaviour that is characterised by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to throw away large quantities of objects, often covering living areas of the home and causing significant distress or impairment.

It can be difficult to even begin to understand how people live in these conditions. Hoarding is not just a television show where the council are called out to gut houses that have become so filled with items that the resident can no longer live comfortably. It’s a serious situation which can lead to the sufferer's death – in some cases being crushed by their belongings.

Hoarding is more common than you’d imagine

Based on national statistics, it is estimated that there are approximately 700 complex hoarders throughout Cornwall – equating to 25 cases in each of the larger towns within Cornwall.

Modern slavery – it’s closer than you think

A message that we began seeing a year ago:




It’s also something that has became law this year with the Modern Slavery Act 2015. This introduces several recruitments for organisations but, this month, sees the implementation of Section 54 – the transparency in supply chain provisions. If you aren’t a commercial organisation with a turnover in excess of £36 million, you’re exempt from this. If you are, you’ll now be needing to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year. This is a statement that either: 

  • sets out the steps that the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains, and in any part of its own business; or
  • states that the organisation has taken no such steps.

Even if you’re a small to medium sized organisation or individual, though there are still things you can watch out for. Albert’s story illustrates this well:

“Albert is a British national. For a lot of his life Albert lived with his mum and worked for a cleaning company. His mother died when he was 57 and it changed everything. He wasn’t able to cope with the responsibilities and, after suffering an emotional and mental breakdown, he eventually became homeless.

Whilst waiting for a bed at a night shelter, he was approached by two men. They offered him work, accommodation, food and alcohol. Albert was vulnerable and desperate, so he went with the men. Albert was made to share a damp caravan with three other men. He was forced to lay concrete slabs and do other hard landscaping work from 6am to 10pm. He never got the money he was promised. If he complained about his conditions, he was physically assaulted. Sometimes he was forced to sleep outside with no shelter.

Albert was sold to another family for £3,000 and moved to a different area. He suffered for four more years. He was forced to do many things against his will, such as knocking on doors cold calling for business.

Whilst working on a tarmac drive, he eventually managed to escape and made his way to London. He asked the transport police for help and they directed him to a homeless unit. Albert was malnourished, disorientated and scared. He was moved to a safe house thanks to The Salvation Army and the Medaille Trust and was eventually able to start the process of recovery. Albert now spends his retirement time volunteering in a charity shop and enjoys the clubs and entertainment where he lives. He is helping police with an ongoing investigation of his trafficking.”


The purpose of adult safeguarding training

Adult safeguarding training ensures we understand forms of adult abuse, what to look out for and how and when to act. It gives us a better 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.

An overview of flick's adult safeguarding online training course.

  • The definition of an adult at risk
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological or emotions abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect
  • Self-Neglect
  • Institutional abuse
  • Responding to disclosures
  • The care act 2014

If you want up-to-date adult safeguarding training, why not visit the flick website today? Our adults at risk course is available now... click here to start your demo!


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