Adults at risk of abuse

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How do we define what an adult at risk of abuse is?

As with children's safeguarding there is also a statutory threshold for the reporting of concerns where there are Adults at risk of abuse.

In churches, what we define as a vulnerable adults is very different to how the law would class a vulnerable adult.

Safeguarding adults means helping adults at risk who need support from community care services to keep their independence, remain safe and exercise choice in their life. Partner agencies from the statutory, voluntary and independent sector come together to seek assurance that the persons thought to be at risk stay safe, are effectively safeguarded against abuse, neglect, discrimination, are treated with dignity and respect and enjoy a high quality of life.

Definition of an Adult at risk of abuse

• 18 years or over and

• Has need for care or support (whether or not the Local Authority is meeting any of the needs and

• Is experiencing or at risk of experiencing neglect of abuse and

• As a result of their support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk or experience of abuse or neglect.

All 4 criteria above define what an Adult at risk of abuse is.

Mental Capacity

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Code of Practice, provides a framework for assessing capacity, deciding what to do if someone lacks capacity for a particular decision, and how to go about resolving disputes.

It must be assumed that a person has capacity, unless it is established otherwise.

“Capacity” means being able to make a particular decision – and so capacity is only meaningful for a particular decision at a specific time. The starting point to assess capacity is always “what is the decision that needs to be made, and when?”

Only a court can decide whether or not a person has capacity

The legal test is that a person is unable to make a particular decision for himself if, because of “an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain”, he is unable:

A. To understand the information relevant to that decision, or
B. To retain that information, or
C. To use or weigh that information as part of a decision making process, or D. To communicate his decision by any means.

So a capacity cannot be generic, but must relate to a particular decision. Also, capacity fluctuates day to day and retimes hour by hour.


People who have dementia may benefit from their church undergoing specific training to help them to understand the condition. There are so many things we can do to support a person with dementia and its not a scary as you may think.

There are various activities, such as singing, sharing memories, and looking at old photographs, taking trips down memory lane, having a specific themed night from the 40's 50's and 60's and that would enable people, at various stages of their dementia to participate and talk about their lives.

Alternatively you can be supported to become a dementia friendly church. For more information click here

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