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Safeguarding simply means keeping adults and children safe from abuse or neglect.

People with care and support needs can be especially at risk because they trust others to meet those needs – and that trust is sometimes abused.

Adults who are especially vulnerable to abuse or neglect are called ‘adults at risk’.

What the law says about safeguarding

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 protects those it identifies as being at risk of abuse.

The Act says that the local council must make further enquiries if it has reasonable cause to suspect that someone:

  • Is experiencing abuse or neglect, or
  • Is at risk of abuse or neglect.

In both situations, the local council must make any enquiries it thinks necessary to decide whether any further action should be taken.

The regulations state that councils must also provide an automatic right to support services for children and adults experiencing, or at risk of, abuse and neglect.

Unintentional abuse

If you are caring for someone then the dynamics in your relationship will have changed and that can be very difficult to deal with.

The caring role can give rise to situations and behaviours that are abusive, although they may not immediately seem to be:

  • Taking over an older relative’s finances when they have capacity
  • Shouting at someone because they cannot do something – or are taking too long
  • Letting someone go hungry because they cannot feed themselves
  • Encouraging someone to go into residential care when they really want to stay at home.

If your own well-being is being affected by your caring role, it’s important to seek support.

Reporting your concerns

If you suspect the adult or child you are looking after – or helping to look after – is being abused (by family, friends or professional health and social care workers), it’s important to report your concerns immediately (you do not need to leave your name).

Ring the police on 101 or contact your council’s Local Safeguarding Team. In an emergency, call 999. If your concerns are about a child of school age, ask to speak to the school’s designated child protection teacher.

If you are the one who is being abused, you must also seek help.