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Do you work with adults at risk?


Do you work with adults who may be parents or have caring responsibilities for children?

All professionals working with adults at risk or with their parents, guardians and or carers must consider the needs of and risks to those adults.  Anyone aged 16 or over can become an adult at risk.  Adults at risk have additional support needs and may be dependent on others.

Those most at risk are often elderly and frail, living on their own in the community, or without much family support in care homes. They are often people with physical or learning disabilities and people with mental health needs.

If you or someone you know is being harmed – tell someone about it as soon as possible.  Some adults at risk can be harmed by other people or by their own actions.  A person being harmed may be too frightened or worried to tell someone else.  You must speak up on their behalf.

Human Rights are everyone’s right – We all have the right to live in a safe, secure community free from exploitation and harm.  However, some of us live in fear, unable to speak out.  Some people need help to ensure their right to live in safety, with good care and support.  Adults at risk deserve support and protection, respect and care.

For information on the National Guidance on Adult Support and Protection follow this link

For information on Assessing Patient Capacity follow this link

Adult Support and Protection Act 

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 is a piece of law to try to protect people from being harmed.

This is because some people may find it more difficult to stop harm happening to them. The Act calls people in this situation ‘adults at risk’.

The Act defines adults at risk as people aged 16 years or over who:

  • are unable to safeguard themselves, their property (their home, the things they own), their rights or other interests;
  • are at risk of harm; and
  • because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than others who are not so affected.

Having a particular condition such as a learning disability or a mental health problem does not automatically mean an adult is at risk. Someone can have a disability and be perfectly able to look after themselves. For an adult to be considered at risk, all three parts of the definition must be met. 

Any intervention in an individual's affairs should provide benefit to the individual, and should be the least restrictive option.

Any function under Part 1 of the Act must also take into account:

  • the wishes and feelings of the adult at risk
  • the views of other significant individuals, such as the adult's nearest relative; their primary carer, guardian, or attorney; or any other person with an interest in the adult's well-being or estate;
  • providing the adult with the relevant information and support to enable them to participate as fully as possible;
  • the importance of ensuring that the adult is not treated less favourably than another adult in a comparable situation; and
  • the adult's abilities, background and characteristics (including their age, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion, racial origin, ethnic group and cultural and linguistic heritage).
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Adult Protection Referrals

To make an adult protection referral, follow the procedure in the Shetland inter-agency Adult Support and Protection Procedures. This provides for a telephone referral followed up with a form sent to Duty Social Work, which is generally also copied to a central collation point in each agency. Please refer to section 9, page 30 of the Procedures for further details.

If you want to complete the referral form electronically it can be downloaded from this website. There is one version for health staff to use [doc, 23Kb] and one for other organisations [doc, 24Kb] . The form should be completed and printed off, signed and sent to social work to follow up your telephone referral. Please do NOT e-mail it unless you are sure you have a secure link and have been specifically requested to do so.

Even then you should also submit a hard copy, to ensure it receives appropriate management oversight.

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Documents and recent information

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Adult Protection Training

Good inter-agency work is vital in supporting to keep adults at risk safe.

Shetland APC runs a range of courses for staff and volunteers working at all levels.

Participants especially value the inter-agency courses - training together aids working together.

Even if you have done adult protection training elsewhere, these courses will place your knowledge in the local context and you may bring good practice from elsewhere to share with others. See below for the support and training available and the Joint Training Strategy agreed by all agencies at CPC and APC.

For more information on any of the above courses please contact SIC Workforce Development Team on Tel: 01595 743920 email: Workforce.DevelopmentTeam@shetland.gov.uk  

Any requests for training regarding Adult Support and Protection please contact the Lead Officer on Tel: 01595 74 4435 email: kate.gabb@shetland.gov.uk

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If you are concerned about someone’s welfare, please tell someone who can help.

These are the phone numbers:

Duty Social Work
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm:
01595 744400

Outside office hours:
01595 695611

Police: 101