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Abuse and neglect

Adult safeguarding

Adult safeguarding is the process of protecting adults from abuse, neglect or harm. It involves identifying and addressing potential risks, ensuring a person's well-being, and promoting their rights and dignity.

We are committed to protecting people's health, wellbeing, and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse, and neglect. This is what we call safeguarding. It is important to understand that safeguarding is everyone's responsibility, including yours.

Safeguarding applies to any adult who:

  • has care and support needs
  • is experiencing abuse or neglect
  • is unable to protect themselves due to their care and support needs

We all have a role to play in preventing abuse.

Abuse is a violation of a person's human and civil rights by any other person. It is where someone does something to another person, or to themselves, which puts them at risk of harm and affects their health and wellbeing. Adults can be vulnerable to abuse and neglect, especially if they have care and support needs.

Abuse comes in many forms. The effects may be short term, or may last a long time. The signs of abuse aren't always obvious, and the person who is experiencing them may not tell anyone what is happening to them. Sometimes they may not even be aware they are being abused.

Abuse can be deliberate or unintentional. It may only happen once, or could happen repeatedly.

Abuse and neglect can come from lots of different people, including:

  • friends
  • family members
  • people who provide care
  • strangers

It can also happen anywhere, for example:

  • in a persons own home
  • in a public place
  • in a care home
  • at the hospital
  • in day centres
  • in education

Types of abuse

The Care Act 2014 identifies ten categories of abuse and neglect. These are:

  • Physical abuse - assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint, inappropriate physical sanctions
  • Sexual abuse - rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure, sexual assault, sexual acts to which the adult has not consented, sexual acts where the adult felt pressure to consent
  • Psychological abuse - emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation, unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks
  • Financial or material abuse - theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion (including wills, property, inheritance, or financial transactions), the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions, or benefits
  • Discriminatory abuse - psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse, honour-based violence
  • Organisational abuse - neglect and poor care practice (one off incidents or ongoing ill-treatment), neglect because of the structure, policies, processes, and practices within an organisation
  • Neglect and acts of omission - ignoring medical, emotional, or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life (medication, heating, food)
  • Domestic violence - harassment, slurs or similar treatment, racism, gender and gender identity, ageism, disability, sexual orientation, religion
  • Modern slavery - slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude, traffickers and slave masters forcing individuals into a life of slavery
  • Self-neglect - neglecting to care for personal hygiene, neglecting to care for personal health, neglecting to care for personal surroundings (including hoarding)

What we will do to help

We will take steps to ensure the immediate safety of the person and anyone else who it may affect. We will talk to the person, or a suitable representative on their behalf, to find out what is happening.

We will work with them to plan what we can do to help keep them safe and as independent as possible.

Where necessary we will investigate allegations of abuse with our partner agencies. Following investigation we will take the appropriate action.

We will always do what we can to prevent abuse from happening again.

Visit our what happens when you report a concern page to find out more about what happens after someone has reported abuse or neglect.

Find out about Safeguarding adults in Gateshead.
What to do if you are a victim of domestic abuse.

If you see something that concerns you, report it as quickly as possible to stop it getting worse. You can do this by contacting Adult Social Care Direct on 0191 433 7033 or by completing our online form.

Please read our information about understanding safeguarding (opens new window) before reporting a concern.

Report a safeguarding concern

The Adult Social Care Direct Team work Monday to Friday, 9am until 6pm, and will respond to referrals made between this time. You can tell us about a concern you have online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but we can't respond to this over a weekend.

If you believe your concern is an emergency or believe someone is in immediate danger, you should call the emergency services on 999.