Safeguarding adults: advice for family & friends

Do you know someone who is over the age of 18 who cannot always protect themselves from harm and may need care services because of mental illness, physical impairment or learning disability, age, illness, or personal circumstances?

They could be ‘at risk’ which does not means that they lack capacity or cannot make their own decisions about their life; instead, the term simply means that they may be more likely to experience exploitation or abuse and may have greater difficulty addressing the situation if it does occur.

Anyone can witness or become aware of information suggesting that abuse is occurring. It is important that everyone understands what to do, and where to get help and advice. It is vital that everyone remains vigilant on behalf of those unable to protect themselves. This will include:

Real Safeguarding Stories
These videos are designed to help us all think about adult safeguarding issues. Throughout our lives we can become vulnerable and at risk. These videos explore issues such as drug abuse, online fraud, mental health, care for the elderly, and neglect. They are also designed to help us reflect on how people can be best supported, for example by addressing the needs of the carer, or by ‘making safeguarding personal’.

Visit their website at

Reporting a concern

If you are concerned about yourself, or a friend or neighbour, there are people you can speak to and there is help available. No matter who is helping, everyone is in charge of making their own decisions and has the right to be respected and listened to.

  • Trust your instinct – if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  • Don’t ignore it.
  • Don’t assume that someone else is doing something about the situation. Tell someone about it so that they can help.

Call 999 if you are reporting a crime that is in progress, or if someone is in immediate danger, or contact the Manchester Contact Centre on 0161 234 5001 if you think someone is at risk or is being abused.

Care homes and home carers
Contact the local council if you’re concerned about:

  • Someone not being treated properly in a care home
  • Someone being mistreated by a carer.

NHS hospital or clinic care

  • Contact the manager of the hospital or clinic if you’re worried about someone.

Help and advice
If you want to discuss your concerns or  get some advice, contact the Action on Elder Abuse helpline on tele: 0808 808 8141 or visit their website at

What will happen if you report a concern?

To help them decide what to do, the authorities always contact the adult concerned. What they want to happen is very important. They will try to talk to them first, even if it is difficult for them to communicate what has happened.

If the person has substantial difficulty with being involved, then they may ask for an independent advocate to help them understand what is happening and to help them express their views.

The person telling us about the possible abuse or neglect can remain anonymous.

Someone is missing from home or care

If an adult goes missing, particularly if they have a learning difficulty or a condition such as Alzheimer’s, you should always call the police in the first instance, even if you think you know where they are. Every minute that they are missing increases the chances of them being harmed and the police will always prioritise this.

If an adult is missing you can inform the police by calling 101 or 999 if it is an emergency and there is also a specialist national Missing People service to help you, telephone 0800 700 740 or visit their website at

Herbert Protocol
The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme being introduced locally by Greater Manchester Police and other local agencies which encourages carers and family members to compile useful key information which could be used in the event of a person with dementia going missing.

The Herbert Protocol is a form which is kept at home, or in a safe place, with important information about a vulnerable person. Should they go missing, information is easily on hand about routines, medical requirements and favourite places to visit and can be handed over to the police, alleviating the worry of collecting it together during a stressful time – download the form from the GMP website at or see our Herbert Protocol resource.

How to report something to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) 

Visit the GMP website at to find out how you can report a crime or an incident to Greater Manchester Police.

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding means keeping people safe from harm or abuse and promoting their welfare.

We all have the right to live our lives free from abuse. It is recognised that certain groups of people may be more likely to experience abuse and less able to access services or support to keep themselves safe.

This may include people with:

  • a learning, physical or sensory disability
  • mental ill health or dementia
  • frailty due to age
  • an acquired brain injury
  • a drug or alcohol problem
  • certain types of physical illness.

What is abuse?

Abuse can happen anywhere at any time – in the street, in the home, in a residential or nursing home, in a day care centre or hospital, on a computer or mobile phone.

Abuse can happen at any time, day or night.

Abuse may be committed by anyone – relatives, partners, friends, care workers, or strangers.

Abuse can take many forms.

Whatever the circumstances, abuse is always wrong, and we need to consider how we can support the person bring the abuse to an end.

Abuse can be:
Discriminatory abuse – includes abuse, such a harassment, slurs or hate crime based on a person’s race, gender, sex, disability, faith, sexual orientation, or age.

Domestic abuse – is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse… by someone who is or has been an intimate partner or family member regardless of sexuality.

Financial and material abuse – includes theft of money or possessions, misuse of someone’s benefits or finances, exploitation, fraud, pressure in connection with financial matters.

Modern slavery – includes human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.

Neglect and acts of omission – such as a carer not meeting a person’s physical or health needs or the withholding of necessities, such as medication and adequate nutrition.

Organisational abuse – where any of these forms of abuse, or poor practice are caused by the way an organisation practices, this is called organisational or institutional abuse.

Physical abuse – includes hitting, kicking, slapping, rough handling, misuse of medication, inappropriate sanctions or unlawful / inappropriate restraint.

Psychological abuse – includes threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation, blaming, controlling, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse.

Self neglect – includes situations where a person is declining support with their care needs, hygiene, health or their environment, and this is having a significant impact on their overall well being; this can include hoarding.

Sexual abuse – making someone carry out a sexual act they have not, or cannot consent to; or were pressured into consenting to.

Find out more in our what is adult abuse? resource.


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