Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy

A full version of this policy, including flowchart and form, can be downloaded here

Purpose and Scope

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility:

Safeguarding vulnerable adults is a part of the wider role of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity which is undertaken to protect specific vulnerable adults who are suffering or are at risk of suffering significant harm.  As adults and/or professionals or volunteers, everyone has a responsibility to safeguard vulnerable adults and promote their welfare.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of vulnerable adults – and in particular protecting them from significant harm – depends upon effective joint working between agencies and professionals that have different roles and expertise.

Some of the most vulnerable adults and those at greatest risk of social exclusion, will need coordinated help from health, education, social care, and quite possibly the voluntary sector and other agencies, including justice services.

ECC is committed to supporting and protecting the welfare of carers who use its services. We therefore have a responsibility to ensure carers who may be at risk are protected.



ECC provides Independent Advocacy and Transition Support to unpaid carers i.e. a family member, partner or friend) who support an adult with a serious mental health illness, physical disability, a learning disability, an acquired brain injury, dementia or autistic spectrum condition living in the community of Edinburgh. 

In the context of this policy vulnerable adults are adults at risk of harm and aged 16 years of age and over, who:

  • are not in a position/unable to safeguard their own wellbeing
  • are at risk of harm, and
  • are carers of disabled adults affected by mental health illness, physical disability, a learning disability, an acquired brain injury, dementia or autistic spectrum condition

This policy and procedures will enable ECC to demonstrate its commitment to keeping safe the vulnerable adults with whom it supports and has put in place preventative measures.  ECC acknowledges its duty to act appropriately to any allegations, reports or suspicions of abuse and will ensure staff, carers, management committee and volunteers know what to do in the event of abuse.

Our Policy Statement and Procedures have been drawn up in order to enable ECC to: 

  • promote good practice and work in a way that can prevent harm, abuse and coercion occurring
  • to ensure that any allegations of abuse or suspicions are dealt with appropriately and the person experiencing abuse is supported
  • to stop that abuse occurring

In order to implement the policy, the ECC will work to:

  • promote the freedom and dignity of the person who has or is experiencing abuse
  • promote the rights of all people to live free from abuse and coercion
  • to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people who are not in a position/unable to decide how they want to respond to abuse that they are experiencing
  • manage services in a way which promotes safety and prevents abuse
  • In Partnership with AdvoCard: recruit staff, management committee and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary PVG disclosure checks are made, references are taken up, they are familiar with our policy and procedures and they access up to date training
  • provide effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training
  • act within its confidentiality policy and will usually gain permission from carers before sharing information about them with another agency
  • work with other agencies within the framework of the City of Edinburgh Council’s protection of Vulnerable Adults and Young People Policy and Procedures
  • ensure that the Designated Named Person understands his/her responsibilities and refer incidents of adult abuse to the relevant statutory agencies City of Edinburgh Department of Health and Social Care or Police Scotland
  • ensure that carers who have welfare POA or welfare Guardianship are informed and involved in the vulnerable adults’ statutory process
  • encourage carers to become involved in the running of the organisation through volunteering and becoming a member of the management committee


Preventing abuse

ECC is committed to putting in place safeguards and measures to reduce the likelihood of abuse taking place within the services it offers and that all those involved within ECC will be treated with respect. 

Therefore, this policy needs to be read in conjunction with the following policies:

  • Equal Rights and Diversity 
  • Volunteers 
  • Complaints 
  • Whistle Blowing 
  • Confidentiality 
  • Disciplinary and Grievance
  • Data Protection
  • Recruitment and Selection 
  • Any other policies which are relevant that the organisation has in place (e.g. Challenging Behaviour, Handling Money)

This policy should be read in conjunction with City of Edinburgh Council’s Adult Protection Policy 



These procedures have been designed to ensure the welfare and protection of any adult who accesses our services. The procedures recognise that adult abuse can be a difficult subject for workers to deal with. ECC is committed to the belief that the protection of vulnerable adults from harm and abuse is everybody’s responsibility and the aim of these procedures is to ensure that all staff, management committee members and volunteers act appropriately in response to any concern around adult abuse.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of abuse

ECC is committed to ensuring that all staff, the management committee, trustees and volunteers undertake training to gain a basic awareness of signs and symptoms of abuse. 

“Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons”

Abuse includes: 

  • physical abuse: including hitting, slapping, punching, burning, misuse of medication, inappropriate restraint
  • sexual abuse: including rape, indecent assault, inappropriate touching, exposure to pornographic material
  • psychological or emotional abuse: including belittling, name calling, threats of harm, intimidation, isolation
  • financial or material abuse: including stealing, selling assets, fraud, misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits
  • neglect and acts of omission: including withholding the necessities of life such as medication, food or warmth, ignoring medical or physical care needs
  • discriminatory abuse: including racist, sexist, that based on a person’s disability and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment
  • institutional or organisational: including regimented routines and cultures, unsafe practices, lack of person-centred care or treatment

Abuse may be carried out deliberately or unknowingly. Abuse may be a single act or repeated acts.

People who behave abusively come from all backgrounds and walks of life. They may be doctors, nurses, social workers, advocates, staff members, volunteers or others in a position of trust. They may also be relatives, friends, neighbours or people who use the same services as the person experiencing abuse.


Guidelines on immediate action to be taken following the reporting of abuse by a vulnerable adult 

ECC recognises that it has a duty to act on reports, or suspicions of abuse or neglect. It also acknowledges that taking action in cases of adult abuse is never easy.

How to respond if you receive an allegation:

  • React calmly so as not to frighten/cause additional anxiety or deter him/her
  • Reassure him/her that you are glad they have told you and it is not their fault
  • Don’t promise to keep it to yourself, and at the earliest opportunity remind them of our Confidentiality Policy and explain what this means
  • Explain that you need to make sure that they will be safe and may have to pass on information to somebody trusted to deal with it appropriately
  • Listen carefully to what they say and take them seriously
  • Tell them that the information will be treated seriously
  • Don’t start to investigate or ask detailed or probing questions
  • Allow them to tell you what happened in their own words
  • It is important to clarify what you have heard and to establish the basic facts. However, avoid leading questions and do not ask them specific questions about explicit details
  • If possible, make brief notes during the initial disclosure, explaining to them why you are doing this. If it is not possible to do this at the time then make notes as soon as possible afterwards. All notes should be dated and signed by the staff member or volunteer taking them. All notes should then be given to the designated person or his/her deputy
  • When leaving him/her take time to ensure, as far as is practicable, that they are ok and that they will be going somewhere safe when they leave you. Do not accompany them, however. If it is clear that they are not okay then seek appropriate intervention for example a GP or Social Worker or a Nurse
  • The allegation and any notes should be communicated to the appropriate person as soon as possible. This means the same day if possible or first thing the next day. You may decide that it is so urgent that you must inform someone immediately in which case this can happen in the evening or over the weekend

If you witness abuse or abuse has just taken place the priorities will be to:

  • call an ambulance if required
  • call the police if a crime has been committed
  • preserve evidence
  • keep yourself, staff, volunteers and service users safe
  • inform the Designated Named Person in your organisation
  • record what happened in the Safeguarding log at 14 Links Place

All situations of abuse or alleged abuse should be discussed with the Designated Named Person or their deputy. If a member of the management committee, a trustee, staff member or volunteer feels unable to raise this concern with the Designated Named Person or their deputy then concerns can be raised directly with Adult Social Care or Police Scotland. Tell the alleged victim that this will happen. 

If it is appropriate and there is consent from the individual, or there is a good reason to override consent, such as risk to others, a referral will be made to Adult Social Care or Police Scotland.

If the individual experiencing abuse does not have capacity to consent, a referral will be made without that person’s consent if it is thought to be in their best interests.


Managing an allegation made against member of staff or volunteer

ECC will ensure that any allegations made against members or member of staff will be dealt with swiftly.

Where a member of staff/volunteer is thought to have committed a criminal offence the police will be informed. If a crime has been witnessed the police should be contacted immediately.

The safety of the individual(s) concerned is paramount. A risk assessment must be undertaken immediately to assess the level of risk to all service users posed by the alleged perpetrator. This will include whether it is safe for them to continue in their role or any other role within the service whilst the investigation is undertaken. 

The Designated Named Person will liaise with Adult Social Care Direct Team to discuss the best course of action and to ensure that the ECC disciplinary procedures are coordinated with any other enquiries taking place as part of the ongoing management of the allegation. 

ECC has a whistle blowing policy and staff are aware of this policy. Staff will be supported to use this policy.

A full version of this policy, including flowchart and form, can be downloaded here.