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What happens when you report abuse


If you have called Social Care Direct because you are worried that an adult is at risk of abuse and neglect or is experiencing abuse and neglect, every concern raised will be treated individually.

When you contact Social Care Direct you will speak to a trained contact officer.  They will listen carefully to what you say, take it seriously, and give advice, even if you wish to remain anonymous.  The officer will take prompt action if the adult is in immediate danger.

Social Care Direct will decide if someone needs to gather more information about what abuse or neglect might be happening or what the risk is.  This is called making a safeguarding enquiry.

We have produced an easy read document that provides some general information about types of abuse, how to spot the signs, and what happens when you report it.

The safeguarding enquiry might be led by a social worker in a Durham County Council Adult Care Locality Team or the Adult Protection Team, or a professional from another organisation who is already involved with the person might be asked to help.  All will make every effort to ensure the adult is safe and find out what the adult wants to happen next.

It is best if the person consents to the safeguarding enquiry taking place, but sometimes even if the adult has not or cannot consent, there is an enquiry, due to the need to act in the person's best interests, or because professionals have a duty of care, or if other people may be at risk, or if a crime has been committed.

If the abuse or neglect is more serious, a meeting with other organisations may need to be held.  This is a formal meeting with the relevant professionals to decide what action needs to be taken, and who by.  The people who could be there include:

  • police
  • nurses
  • general practitioner (GP)
  • pharmacists
  • care staff
  • housing officers
  • warden services
  • social workers
  • occupational therapist
  • physiotherapists

The adult

The main concern is for the safety and welfare of the adult at risk of abuse and neglect, and what they want to happen next. If appropriate, help and services will be arranged.

Safeguarding can apply to anyone:

  • older people
  • people with a learning disability
  • people with a physical disability
  • people with sensory loss
  • people with a substance misuse or alcohol misuse
  • people with mental health needs
  • people who are not looking after themselves
  • people who deliberately self-harm
  • those involved with sex-work
  • people who are involved in crime or anti-social behaviour

They are all entitled to protection.

Person alleged to have caused harm

Anyone can abuse or neglect.  Sometimes it might be a person with problems and needs in their own right such as a family member caring for an adult with care and support needs.  This carer might have their own health problems and become very tired and stressed.

Outcomes of a safeguarding enquiry

Adult Care will take no action at all if the safeguarding enquiry finds there are no concerns. However if there are concerns and an adult with care and support needs is still at risk, there will be a proportionate response to the risk. Any of the following actions could be taken:

  • training for staff
  • the suspension or sacking of staff
  • referral of a care worker to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to consider barring
  • criminal charges
  • services or extra services for the adult
  • help and support for the person who caused harm such as a carer's assessment, information or training
  • action by Care Quality Commission about a care setting

Safeguarding Adult Reviews

A Safeguarding Adult Review (SAR) takes place if:

  • An adult in County Durham has died as a result of abuse or neglect and there is concern for how partner agencies have worked together to protect the adult;
  • The adult is alive and has suffered serious abuse or neglect, and there is concern for how partner agencies have worked together to protect the adult.

Holding a SAR is a statutory duty for the SAB and can take place at the same time as a safeguarding enquiry, or at a different time.  The purpose of a SAR is:

  • Not to apportion blame
  • To learn from what happened and why
  • Improve how agencies work together
  • Prevent similar harm in the future

We have produced an easy read document that provides some information about SARs, what happens, and who is involved.

Icon for pdf SAR Family Leaflet - Easy Read (PDF, 335.8kb)

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