Keeping Adults Safe

Welcome to the East Riding Voluntary Action Services (ERVAS), Safeguarding Adults page. Within this section of the website we provide a whole range of information looking at how you can keep adults safe within your setting, often known as Adult Safeguarding. You can use the menu below to navigate this section of our site.

Introduction to Adult Safeguarding

This section of the website provides an overview of the key elements of adult safeguarding, it provides links to local and national information and guidance and within the training section details of our Adult Safeguarding training as well as links to more detailed reading.

Many of you will be familiar with the term ‘Vulnerable Adult’ which was taken from the ‘No Secrets’ guidance; that guidance was replaced in 2014 with the Care Act Statutory guidance. Since then many adult safeguarding practitioners use the term ‘Adult at risk of harm’ or ‘Adult at risk of abuse’ to replace the term vulnerable adult.

The term ‘adult at risk’ is used in this website to replace ‘vulnerable adult’. This is because the term ‘vulnerable adult’ may wrongly imply that some of the fault for the abuse lies with the victim of abuse. We use ‘adult at risk’ as an exact replacement for ‘vulnerable adult’ as that phrase is still commonly used by many individuals and within some organisations.

Access our safeguarding training offer

The Meaning of Adult Safeguarding

The Care Act 2014 statutory guidance defines Adult Safeguarding as –

  • Protecting an adult’s rights to live in safety, free from abuse
  • People and organisations working together to prevent abuse
  • Promote the ‘Adult’s Wellbeing’ as set out in the Care Act 2014
  • Having regard to the adult’s views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding any action to protect them from abuse
  • Raising public awareness and providing information

Organisations and groups working with adults at risk should always promote the adult’s wellbeing in their safeguarding arrangements. People have complex lives and being safe is only one of the things they want for themselves. Professionals should work with the adult to establish what being safe means to them and how that can be best achieved.

Professionals and other staff should not be advocating “safety” measures that do not take account of individual wellbeing, as defined in Section 1 of the Care Act.

Adults at Risk of Harm

In the context of the Care Act 2014 specific adult safeguarding duties apply to any adult who –

  • is 18 or over
  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs)
  • is experiencing, or at risk of harm, abuse or neglect, and
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of harm, or the experience of abuse or neglect

However the Care Act 2014 provides the local authority the power to make discretionary safeguarding enquiries and some situations, which may initially appear to be a safeguarding concern, may after initial enquiry require a different type of intervention. Staff and volunteers should not limit themselves to what may constitute abuse and if there are concerns about an adult at risk they should be discussed with your manager.

A more thorough exploration of the key issues and dilemmas’ facing staff and volunteers takes place during the Level 1 Adult Safeguarding course, ‘Recognising Abuse’.

Key Principles of Adult Safeguarding

The following six principles apply to all sectors and settings including; voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, faith sector, care and support services, further education colleges, commissioning, regulation and provision of health and care services, social work, healthcare, welfare benefits, housing, wider local authority functions and the criminal justice system.

The principles should inform the ways in which professionals and all staff (paid and unpaid) work with adults. The principles can also help organisations and groups more widely, by using them to examine and improve their safeguarding arrangements.

Key principles

  1. Empowerment – People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent
  2. Prevention – It is better to take action before harm occurs
  3. Proportionality – The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented
  4. Protection – Support and representation for those in greatest need
  5. Partnership – Local solutions through services working with their communities
  6. Accountability – Accountability and transparency when delivering safeguarding

‘Making Safeguarding Personal’ (MSP)

MSP means any intervention or action taken to protect an adult must be person-led and outcome focussed. It is a shift in culture towards person-centred practice and is about –

  • Having conversations with people
  • Enhancing the adult’s involvement, choice and control
  • Improving the quality of life, wellbeing and safety of the adult
  • Seeing people as experts in their own lives and working alongside them
  • Ensuring that safeguarding has a positive impact on people’s lives

A safeguarding intervention should improve quality of life, wellbeing and safety.

It is vital that all groups and organisations recognise that adult safeguarding arrangements are there to protect individuals. We all have different preferences, histories, circumstances and life-styles, so it is unhelpful to prescribe a rigid process that must be followed whenever a concern is raised.

Care and Support Needs

People with care and support needs

The following categories of people is not exhaustive but incorporates the main groups discussed within the Care Act 2014, An adult who –

  • is elderly and frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment
  • has a learning disability
  • has a physical disability or sensory impairment
  • has mental health needs, including dementia or a personality disorder
  • has long term illness/condition
  • misuses substances or alcohol

‘Care & Support’ needs?
The Care Act 2014 defines Care & Support needs in this context as follows:

The adult may have Care & Support needs if –
a. The adult’s needs arise from, or are related to, a physical or mental impairment or illness
b. as a result of the adult’s needs the adult is unable to achieve two or more of the outcomes below and
c. as a consequence there is, or is likely to be, a significant impact on the adult’s wellbeing

  • Managing and maintaining nutrition
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
  • Managing toilet needs
  • Being appropriately clothed
  • Maintaining a habitable home environment
  • Being able to make use of the home safely
  • Developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
  • Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
  • Making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community, including public transport and recreational facilities or services
  • Carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child

‘Wellbeing’ Principle

“Wellbeing” is a broad concept, and it is described in the Care Act as relating to the following areas in particular –

  • Personal dignity, including treatment of the individual with respect
  • Physical and mental health & emotional wellbeing
  • Protection from abuse and neglect
  • Control by the individual over day-to-day life
  • Participation in work, education, training or recreation
  • Social and economic wellbeing
  • Domestic, family and personal relationships
  • Suitability of living accommodation
  • Individual’s contribution to society

People Who May Abuse

While a lot of attention is paid, for example, to targeted fraud or internet scams perpetrated by complete strangers, it is far more likely that the person responsible for abuse is known to the adult and is in a position of trust and power.

These could, amongst others, include –

  • Relatives and family members
  • A person entrusted to act on behalf of the adult in some aspect of their affairs, such as those who have Lasting Power of Attorney
  • Professional staff / Paid care workers / Volunteers
  • Vulnerable people / Other service users
  • Neighbours, friends and associates
  • People who deliberately target vulnerable people

What We Mean When We Say Abuse and Neglect

The Care Act 2014 identifies 10 types of abuse and neglect which are listed below

Physical Organisational
Psychological Financial
Neglect Modern Slavery
Self-neglect Sexual
Discriminatory Domestic Abuse

This is how the Care Act categorises the types of harm caused by people on ‘adults at risk’.

Abuse can happen for many reasons, below are just some things to think about –

  • Intentional, Non-Intentional and deliberate acts of abuse by people
  • Shortage of staff; cutting corners, carer not coping
  • Control, perception, power, colluding
  • Lack of training, inexperience of staff, volunteers or carers
  • Attitudes, lack of respect, normalising bad practice, boredom

Handling a Safeguarding Concern or Disclosure


  • Safety first!…………you may feel uncomfortable, depending on what action you may need to take; but doing nothing is not an option
  • Take any allegation seriously and explain confidentiality
  • Be calm, non-judgemental, use active listening skills to ’clarify’ and ‘summarise’ – be attentive, reassuring and supportive
  • Explain that you must inform your line manager unless your line manager is the alleged abuser, then you should speak to either their line manager or your organisation’s Designated Adult Safeguarding Lead person
  • Dependant on the situation you may need to inform the Emergency Services e.g. Ambulance and/or Police if criminal activity has taken place

Report, Retain, and Record factual information

  • Report to Designated Safeguarding Lead/Line Manager as a matter of urgency
  • Use & record actual words of service user
  • Record time, date, location & name of any witnesses
  • Record as accurately as you can what has happened
  • Inform appropriate DSL within your organisation A.S.A.P but within a maximum of 24 hours


  • Show shock, disbelief or be judgemental
  • Clean or remove potential evidence (please discourage until Police arrive)
  • Stop people talking or talk over the person
  • Probe/Ask questions or press for details
  • Try to contact the alleged abuser
  • Chat inappropriately with other colleagues/beneficiaries/service-users

Raising a Concern
You should always raise your concerns with your line manager unless your line manager is the alleged abuser, then you should speak to either their line manager or your organisations Designated Adult Safeguarding Lead person.

However to raise a concern outside of your organisation or group –

  • The adult at risk must have mental capacity and consent to share their information.
  • Other people may be at risk of abuse from the same person or organisation, (in the public interest)
  • When the adult at risk does not have mental capacity or it fluctuates/loss of capacity (in their best interest)
  • If information cannot be shared you should offer support and protection to reduce the risk. Mental Capacity and consent is a complex area of expertise and you should consider speaking to an adult safeguarding professional but not revealing the adult at risk’s details, or seek legal advice on behalf of your organisation on how to proceed.

If you are not sure that a safeguarding intervention is necessary you can seek further support from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Customer Service Centre on 01482 39 39 39.

To raise a concern complete the online concern form on the Safeguarding Adults Board website.

Contact East Riding Safeguarding Adults Board [External Website]


The Safeguarding Adult Board is pleased to announce that the old ERSAB Consolidated Paperwork has now been reviewed and replaced with two new forms and guidance as follows:

  • Safeguarding Adults Concern Form
  • Guidance Notes on completing the Safeguarding Adults Concern Form
  • Safeguarding Adults Section 42 Enquiry Form
  • Guidance Notes on completing the Safeguarding Adults Section 42 Enquiry Form

Supporting documents are also available as stand-alone documents which are referred to in the Guidance Notes including the following

  • Making Safeguarding Personal Outcome Summary
  • Mental Capacity Assessment Form (MCA 2005)

All of these documents are available on the ERSAB Website

Local Safeguarding Adults Boards

For information on the local Safeguarding Adults Boards please visit the following –

East Riding


North Yorkshire

North Lincolnshire

North East Lincolnshire