Who may be an "Adult at risk"

The Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 states that an "adult at risk", is an adult who:

(a) is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect,

(b) has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs), and

(c) as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.  

This definition may include a person who:

  • has learning disabilities;
  • has mental health problems, including dementia;
  • is an older person with support/care needs;
  • is physically frail or has a chronic illness;
  • has a physical or sensory disability;
  • misuses drugs or alcohol;
  • has an autistic spectrum disorder.

A person's vulnerability will depend on his/her circumstances.  There are many predisposing factors which may increase the likelihood of abuse occurring.

Some factors may increase vulnerability to abuse,

  • Social isolation - those who are abused usually have fewer social contacts than those who are not abused.
  • The person has an illness such as dementia which may affect his or her intellect, memory or physical functions and cause unpredictable psychological or physical behaviour.
  • The person is compliant and may not know that they are being abused or exploited, eg, some people with learning disabilities.
  • The person has communication difficulties as a result of hearing, visual or speech difficulties. They cannot disclose verbally.
  • The person will not be believed if they disclose.
  • The person has behavioural problems or major changes in personality which result in repetitive behaviour, wandering or aggression.
  • The person demands or needs a level of care beyond the capacity of the carer.
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