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Considerations for Referral into Safeguarding Adults Process

Some of the examples to think about in each section could be categorised under a different type of abuse – they should still be considered, whatever category of abuse they are eventually recorded as.

Distinguishing between poor practice and abuse requires a level of analysis / thinking by those involved. Consider the implications of the harmful act for the adult at risk and the impact on that person; consider also whether you feel that the involvement of more than one organisation or agency is required to work with the individual to help them feel safer. Where it is agreed with the adult at risk or their representative and within your organisation that the practice has resulted in harm, a response using the safeguarding adults’ procedures will be indicated.


Does it need more than my agency alone to work with the service user around this issue or not?

In coming to an answer, you may wish to consider the information below (Blackpool staff please refer to Appendix F of local procedures):

Whether the abuse was a ‘one off’ event, or part of a longstanding relationship or pattern, was it:

  • An isolated incident;
  • Recent abuse in an ongoing relationship;
  • Repeated abuse.

The impact of the abuse on the alleged victim was it:

  • Short term (can be taken in their stride) - does the individual understand why it happened and what they want to do about it?
  • Lasting distress or physical or emotional injury;
  • Had the potential to be life threatening or to create additional harm.

The impact of the abuse on other vulnerable adults or children:

  • There was no-one else involved or witnessing abuse;
  • It was witnessed by other service users who were disturbed or distressed about the abuse;
  • Others are seriously intimidated or their environment affected.

The intent of the person allegedly responsible for the abuse:

  • Where they inadvertent or ill informed;
  • Was it violent or serious unprofessional response to difficulties in caring;
  • Planned and deliberately malicious;
  • Resulting from a lack of training.

The illegality of the person alleged to have caused harm’s actions:

  • Poor or bad practice but not illegal;
  • Maybe against the law;
  • Clearly a criminal offence.

The risk of the abuse being repeated against this alleged victim:

  • Very unlikely;
  • Not if significant changes are made – for example training, supervision, respite or support;
  • Very likely even if changes are made or more support provided.

The risk of the abuse being repeated against other vulnerable adults or children:

  • No, very unlikely- you must also consider and document why you believe this to be the case;
  • This person alleged to have caused harm or setting may change, but supervision or training needed;
  • This person alleged to have caused harm setting represents a threat to other vulnerable adults or children.

The things to think about indicated DO NOT represent a strict “threshold” they should give those making alerts and those considering referrals into the safeguarding adults process some prompt questions for more ambiguous cases.