The way we look at Safeguarding Adults and Children in England has changed. 

The Care Act 2014, which came into effect last April, has expanded its list of recognized abuse categories, meaning that now, an even wider range of bad practice and abusive behaviour can be investigated and prosecuted than under ‘No Secrets’ guidance, repealed since April 2015.  

In addition, all staff working in Health and Social Care now have a responsibility for safeguarding children.

3 additional types of abuse are now recognised – Domestic Violence, Self-Neglect and Modern Slavery.

1. Physical Abuse – This relates to any form of malpractice involving an individual’s physical wellbeing. More commonly known examples include hitting or kicking a patient or adult in a care setting, but can also extend to misuse of medication and inappropriate use of restraint.

2. Emotional/ Psychological Abuse – Usually a repeated form of verbal abuse, where an individual is subjected to threats of harm, isolation or seclusion from services, harassment or intimidation, as well anything that alters the person’s behaviour from the way they’d like to live.

3. Financial Abuse – Where someone in a caring role misuses the finances of the individual they care for. This could be for personal gain or in a way originally intended to help the adult receiving care, but using someone’s money without their consent is a crime.

4. Sexual Abuse – If the adult in need of social care is subjected to sexual activity that they did not or could not consent to, including anything from inappropriate touching to rape, the perpetrator is guilty of sexual abuse.

5. Organisational Abuse –This is defined as a service, agency or care home putting its own needs before those of the service users. From imposing inflexible daily routine to reorganising a staff rota to suit its own costs, organisational abuse can damage the service users’ lives.

6. Neglect – Instances of a care worker ignoring the care needs of an individual and failing to provide the care services they require is neglect. Extreme cases can lead to irreparable psychological damage and even death.

7. Discriminatory Abuse – Refusing to acknowledge the different care needed for each individual. This could mean purposefully ignoring someone’s religion, personal beliefs, dietary views or any number of personal preferences.

8. Domestic Violence – One of the new introductions to the list of safeguarding adults in care settings, domestic violence is now recognised as the jurisdiction of the Safeguarding Adults Boards across the country when it is committed against an adult in need of care services.

9. Modern Slavery – Another new category, the use of individuals working for little or no wages is now the business of the Safeguarding Adults Boards across the country. This could be perpetrated by care service employers, the adult in need to care themselves, or someone connected to that person.

10. Self Neglect – A newly defined form of abuse, self-neglect is a condition affecting behavior, where the individual refuses to attend to their personal care and hygiene, their environment or even refusal of care services offered to them. Care workers should be educated on this condition and prepared to work with the individual to improve their situation.

One of the biggest changes the Act has brought about is the SABs (Safeguarding Adult Boards). Before the Act, it was unclear who should be the first point of call when abuse to adults in vulnerable circumstances was found and indeed who should be taking action.

The SABs bring together all local services that should be involved, including the police, the NHS and the local authorities – after all, safeguarding is everyone’s business. If you suspect that someone you know is the subject of any of the types of abuse mentioned in this article, please contact your local council authority or SAB immediately.

All BVS Safeguarding titles have been fully updated to reflect these changes in legislation.


Information for this article was found in the government factsheets and the 2014 Care Act itself read more here.

Additional material was sourced from the Skills for Care website. The Care Act 2014 applies to England only. Please click for more information on safeguarding adults and children regulations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.