Recycling and rubbish collection days are also changing for some households in Mendip and South Somerset. Read about the changes and how they may affect you.

Introduction

Somerset’s Safeguarding Adults Board runs a campaign called Thinking it? Report it urging people to make contact if they think someone is being harmed.

The Safeguarding Adults Board (SSAB) is a group of agencies including Somerset Council, the police, the NHS and others, who work together to protect vulnerable adults from harm.

If you are worried that someone is being harmed or neglected in some way, report it. Our safeguarding services can look into it and find out what is happening.

How to use it?

We know from experience that there are vulnerable people in Somerset who will be subjected to abuse, but may lack the ability, knowledge or support to challenge it or do something about it. That is why we need people to speak up for them.

If you suspect it, think it, hear it or see it, report it to us.

Adult abuse can take many forms.

People who are physically, emotionally or psychologically frail and dependent on others for their care can be neglected and taken advantage of by others in a number of ways. This can be

  • physical harm
  • bullying
  • discrimination
  • neglect
  • financial abuse

It can affect vulnerable men and women from all social backgrounds. Abuse can happen anywhere. In some cases, the abuser is a member of the victim’s own family or someone who is paid to care for them. That makes the problem more hidden, and why we need people to come forward where they have a valid suspicion that something might not be right.

To report a concern about a vulnerable adult, please call 0300 123 2224 or email adults@somerset.gov.uk

In an emergency, always call 999.

What abuse is

Abuse of vulnerable adults is widespread and complex. In many cases, the type of abuse suffered by a victim is wide ranging.

Physical abuse – this can include assault, hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, imposing restrictions on another person.

Financial or material abuse – this can include theft, fraud, internet scamming, exploitation, and pressure in connection with wills, property, possessions or benefits.

Psychological or emotional abuse – this can include verbal assault, intimidation, emotional abuse, deprivation of contact, threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation or blaming.

Sexual abuse – this can include indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, and sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.

Neglect and acts of omission – this can include ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, and withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Discriminatory abuse – this can include harassment because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

Organisational abuse – this can include neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, or care provided in the home.

Self-neglect – this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings, and includes behaviour such as hoarding or not getting to medical appointments.

important

Remember – Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility.

If you would like to support the campaign or find out more about the work of the Safeguarding Adults Board please email ssab@somerset.gov.uk.

Case studies

Please note – names have been changed. The following stories are real and have been written in partnership with Somerset Council’s safeguarding team.

Margaret’s story

Margaret was supported after worried neighbours voiced their concerns. Margaret, who is in her 70’s, lives in a mobile home with her husband and their dog. Neighbours reported that they were not coping well. The house was dirty, with rotting food and dirt everywhere. Margaret seemed very weak. Her neighbours said she was all skin and bone, and the dog appeared to be on its last legs.

The safeguarding team’s approach was to build a relationship and win Margaret’s trust. The social worker who led this case, said: “We were worried that they were embarrassed by their situation, and possibly scared to go into hospital. “Gradually, we managed to persuade them that they had rights and didn’t have to live like this.” She added: “We arranged for a district nurse, occupational therapist and specialist care team to visit to encourage them and give advice.” Margaret agreed to go into to hospital. It meant the team could work on a care plan for her discharge, get the home cleared up and provide support to her husband.

“We always respect people’s decisions if they are competent to make those decisions, but work with them and others to persuade them they have options,” said the social worker.

Annie’s story

Annie’s story illustrates the crucial work of the safeguarding team in supporting people who neglect themselves after experiencing a traumatic incident in their lives. Annie was found by police wandering drunk and half naked in the street. They got in contact with the safeguarding team.

The social worker who led the case visited Annie – who is in her 60’s – at home. Initially, Annie, who is very independent, did not want to talk, but the social worker eventually reassured her that she was there to help. Annie could not remember the incident. The police said when they found Annie, she talked about not knowing where her husband was.

After some digging around, the social worker found out he was very ill in hospital and sadly, he eventually died. He had been Annie’s main carer and it was clear that Annie was vulnerable, had problems with alcohol and was not able to look after herself.

Her children, who live outside Somerset, were worried that Annie would not cope and would kill herself, as she had often threatened. They felt frustrated and let down by services and wanted something done. The social worker said “This was a challenging case, requiring the support of a range of agencies. It was agreed that a psychiatric nurse and community support team would visit and make an assessment.”

The case continues but the social worker is clear that the safeguarding team have made a difference. She said: “We have to make sure that Annie is given choices, whether that is respite care, home help, or a day centre. If she chooses not to take them, then that is her decision, but we have to keep giving her choices and supporting her with the choices she makes.”

Hannah’s story

Hannah’s story illustrates the complex situations the team often have to manage and how they are often responsible for bringing together a range of agencies to work in the best interests of an individual. In this case, their work led to a positive outcome for Hannah and her children.

Hannah was a young mum with two small children and one on the way. Her husband had mental health problems and his behaviour was deteriorating. He started making threats and after seeking help, he was sectioned.

Hannah wanted to support him but was struggling herself and the safeguarding team were asked to get involved. After some initial investigations, it became clear her husband’s threats and controlling behaviour had been going on for some time and might not be related to the husband’s mental health. Hannah decided to leave with her children, but felt very guilty and worried that she would be judged.

The social worker who managed the case, said: “We worked hard to reassure Hannah that she was doing everything she could. We worked with other agencies – police, NHS, mental health teams and others – to try and get all the information and support Hannah needed. We managed to get a care plan agreed. “Hannah is now receiving counselling and support to keep herself and her children safe. She still worries about being criticised and the team work with her to offer support. Lots of agencies are helping Hannah, but if the safeguarding team had not brought it all together and organised a joint meeting, then it would not have happened.”

Jenny’s story

The safeguarding team followed up on concerns that Jenny, who has learning disabilities, was being taken advantage of. Jenny, who is in her 40’s, had lived in a care home for some time, and was in a new relationship.

Staff at the home became concerned when Jenny stopped paying her rent, but learned she had signed up for new mobile phone and satellite TV contracts. They felt they could not do anything to intervene because Jenny had mental capacity, so could make her own decisions. But they feared that some kind of financial abuse was taking place and called in the safeguarding team.

The social worker who led the case, said: “The staff were worried, but did not feel they could get involved because Jenny had mental capacity. We talked to them explaining that safeguarding is not the same as simply protecting people. It is more complex than that. We work in partnership to create a better outcome.”

The safeguarding team spoke with Jenny and agreed a new care plan with her that allowed the home staff to read her letters and explain them to her. The social worker also spoke to her GP and they jointly contacted the mobile phone companies and bank, who agreed to write off her debts.

Jenny now has better control of her money, and this has benefited her self-esteem too.

Last reviewed: March 26, 2024 by Helly

Next review due: September 26, 2024

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