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The 4 R's

Most adults are able to protect themselves from harm and make choices about their own lives. The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 recognises that some adults who are elderly and frail, or who have learning or physical disabilities or mental health problems may be at greater risk of harm, abuse or exploitation.

It does not matter if you are employed or a community member, or a volunteer to provide services to adults who require help and support Shetland Interagency Adult Protection Procedures asks that everyone uses the 4 R’s:

  • Recognise harm to an adult
  • Respond
  • Report/Refer
  • Record

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 legislation designed 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. However, decisions about the three point criteria are the responsibility of Adult Social Work. The advice to everyone is that if you are worried that an adult may be at risk of harm make a referral to duty social work so the situation can be assessed.

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

Any assessment must consider:-

  • 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). (part1 of the Adult Support and Protection Act (Scotland) 2007)

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 Chater six, step five 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]. See Chapter 13. 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.

Trauma Informed Principles and Practice

The Scottish Government has made a commitment to preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and to supporting the resilience and recovery of all children and adults affected by psychological trauma. This commitment is anchored in the long-standing national approach of Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) and aligns closely with the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law. It also supports the ambition set out in the National Performance Framework of increasing the wellbeing of people living in Scotland and reducing inequalities.

The overarching vision for the National Trauma Training Programme is to develop a trauma informed and responsive nation and workforce, that:

  • is informed by people with lived experience
  • recognises the importance of wellbeing in the workforce
  • recognises where people are affected by trauma and adversity
  • responds in ways that prevent further harm
  • supports recovery
  • and can address inequalities and improve life chances

Trauma is ‘everyone’s business’ and every member of the Scottish Workforce has a role to play in understanding and responding to people affected by trauma. This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be a trauma expert — we know that different expertise and skills are required to support people’s recovery — but it does mean that all workers, in the context of their own role and work remit, have a unique and essential trauma informed role to play in responding to people who are affected by trauma.

Shetland Islands Council have signed up to the Leadership Pledge of Support (as part of the National Trauma Training programme) to show their ongoing commitment to embedding trauma informed principles and practice and to support anyone affected by psychological trauma.

Those signed up to this pledge agree to:

  • Work with others to put trauma-informed and responsive practice in place across our workforce and services.
  • Deliver services that wherever possible are actively informed by people with lived experience of trauma.
  • Recognise the central importance of relationships that offer collaboration, choice, empowerment, safety and trust as part of a trauma-informed approach.
  • Respond in ways that prevent further harm, and that reduce barriers so that people affected by trauma have equal access to the services they need, when they need it, to support their own journey of recovery.

The Emotional Wellbeing and Resillience project vision is:

To give children and young people the relationships and connections they need to build their resilience and emotional wellbeing by bringing services and community together to address the impacts of childhood adversity/trauma.

Trauma Informed Practice for the Workforce: Opening Doors Animation

This animation explains why and how trauma is everyone’s business. It is designed to support anyone to become trauma informed - no matter what their job or role in society. It covers traumatic events like childhood sexual abuse and domestic abuse, so it is important to look after yourself as you watch it.

Opening Doors: Trauma Informed Practice for the Workforce on Vimeo

Trauma Informed practice for anyone working with children and young people: Sowing Seeds

This animation was developed by NHS Education for Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government. It is designed for everyone who works with children and young people. It aims to support people to understand the impact of trauma and to know how to adapt the way they work to make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people affected by trauma

Sowing Seeds: Trauma Informed Practice for Anyone Working with Children and Young People on Vimeo

Shetland Trauma Training Pathway

Documents and recent information

Adult Protection Training

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

SPPC 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.

  • Its Everyone’s job to keep children , young people and adults safe from harm and abuse. Here is a link to a basic protection training course that is recommended for everyone, but especially for colleagues working in the voluntary sector or with sports and activity groups. The course will help you to recognise abuse, know what to do and where to get help and advice if you need it. You can print out a certificate for doing the course. If your job or voluntary role requires you to complete Level 2 Adult or Child Protection training you need to complete this eLearning first and bring your certificate with you to the half- day training course. Please note staff working for NHS Shetland and Shetland Islands Council should access the e learning through ilearn or Turas https://level1.safershetland.com/
  • Voluntary Sector Adult Support and Protection Awareness Raising
  • E-learning - Basic Awareness Training for Shetland Islands Council employees can be accessed through iLearn https://ilearn.bridgeapp.com
  • E-learning - Basic Awareness Training for NHS Shetland employees can be accessed through Turas Learn http://turasdashboard.nes.nhs.scot
  • For All Child and Adult Protection Training please follow this link and search:-


For more information please contact SIC Workforce Development Team on Tel: 01595 743920 email: [email protected]

Any requests for training regarding Adult Support and Protection please contact the Lead Officer on Tel: 01595 74 4435 email: [email protected]