The purpose of this document is to set out the policy of the Practice in relation to the protection of vulnerable adults. Further guidance may be available on local inter-agency procedures via the Primary Care Organisation and / or Social Services.
WHAT IS A VULNERABLE ADULT?
The definition is wide, however this may be regarded as anyone over the age of 18 years who may be unable to protect themselves from abuse, harm or exploitation, which may be by reason of illness, age, mental illness, disability or other types of physical or mental impairment.
Those at risk may live alone, be dependent on others (care homes etc.), elderly, or socially isolated.
FORMS OF ABUSE
Abuse may be deliberate or as a result of lack of attention or thought, and may involve combinations of all or any of the above forms. It may be regular or on an occasional or single event basis, however it will result in some degree of suffering to the individual concerned. Abuse may also take place between one vulnerable adult and another, for example between residents of care homes or other institutions.
Where abuse of a vulnerable adult is suspected the welfare of the patient takes priority. In deciding whether to disclose concerns to a third party or other agency the GP will assess the risk to the patient. Ideally the matter should be discussed with the patient involved first, and attempt made to obtain consent to refer the matter to the appropriate agency. Where this is not possible, or in the case of emergency where serious harm is to be prevented, the patient’s doctor will balance the need to protect the patient with the duty of confidentiality before deciding whether to refer. The patient should usually be informed that the doctor intends to disclose information, and advice and support should be offered. Where time permits, the medical defence organisation will be telephoned before any action is taken.
Due regard will be taken of the patient’s capacity to provide a valid consent. (See also Consent Protocol).
In assessing the risk to the individual, the following factors will be considered:
If any Patient suspects that an adult may be vulnerable and “at risk” please advise one of the Practice Partners – in confidence
Consideration may be given to:
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