Policies and practice with ‘vulnerable’ adults
The term ‘vulnerable adult’ is being used more often in adult services work (Brammer 2010) and there is an increasing range of legislation in place to help and support adults who may be vulnerable and/or at risk (Mental Health Act 1983, Mental Capacity Act 2005, Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 and Health and Social Care Act 2008). This chapter examines the concept of the vulnerable adult and considers the contributions and capabilities needed by social workers who work with adult service users. The first comprehensive guidance on safeguarding adults was published in 2000. No Secrets: guidance on developing and implementing multiagency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse incorporated the concept of ‘vulnerable adult’ to establish who are the adults on whose behalf additional assistance may be required. The definition of vulnerable incorporated two elements identifying a person over the age of eighteen:
who is in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and
who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.