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Protecting vulnerable adults

Last updated 16 April 2014

What you should do if you are worried about a vulnerable adult

Adult abuse can take many forms including neglect or physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse. If you believe you are a victim of abuse, or suspect someone you know is being mistreated, tell us and we'll do something about it.

If someone is at risk of immediate harm, or requires medical treatment, call the police or ambulance service on 999.

For all other concerns, call Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000 and tell the person that you wish to speak to that you are worried about possible adult abuse, or ask for the Safeguarding Adults Team.



What happens after your contact?

The Adult Social Care team will find out as much as possible about what has happened. An investigation will be carried out and a protection plan will be put in place. Arrangements will be also made to safeguard the vulnerable adult from any future abuse.

Who is an Adult at Risk?

Anyone aged 18 years or over who may be unable to take care of or protect themselves because they have a physical or sensory disability, learning difficulties, mental health needs or are frail older people.

What do we mean by harm?

Abuse is a violation of a person’s right or dignity by someone else. There are many kinds of abuse; some are listed below:


Including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.


Including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented, could not consent or was pressured into consenting.


Including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

Financial or material

Including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Neglect or acts of omission

Including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health care, social care, education services or misuse of medication, adequate nutrition or heating.


Including racist, sexist behaviour and harassment based on a person’s ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation, age or disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.

Who may cause harm?

Anyone might! For example, relatives and family members, professional staff, paid care workers, volunteers, other service users, neighbours, friends and associates, and strangers

Policy and supporting documents

Click on a link below to download copies of the Adults Protection policy guidelines or incident reporting form.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Mental Health Capacity Act 2007 provides a set of procedures for the authorisation of deprivation of liberty. These safeguards exist to provide suitable protection to all persons who have a mental disorder and lack capacity to consent to their care and treatment in circumstances where deprivation of liberty appears to be unavoidable, in the person’s best interests.

The procedures only apply to deprivation in the setting of a hospital or a care home, including acute hospital settings, whether publicly or privately arranged. Concerns about deprivation for liberty in other people’s homes or other settings should be raised under the safeguarding vulnerable adults procedures.

The team undertakes Best Interest assessments within the DoLS procedures to ensure a person who lacks mental capacity to consent to care and/or treatment is not restricted to the point of their liberty being deprived without proper independent authorisation. This applies only to people in hospitals or in registered care homes.

To make a request for authorisation please download and complete the Mental Capacity Act 2005: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards - standard forms and email or fax it to the DoLS Team or to make an enquiry contact the DoLS Coordinator.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) Team
Adult Social Care
47 Gainsford Road
Walthamstow E17 6QB

Tel 020 8496 3000
Fax 020 8496 6916

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