Abuse occurs when a vulnerable adult is mistreated, neglected or harmed by another person who holds a position of trust. Everyone has a right to feel safe, and to live without fear of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

The abuse of vulnerable adults can take many forms. It can happen anywhere, including nursing and care homes, day services, hospitals, people's own homes or public places.


On this page


What you can do

  • If it is a medical emergency, call 999
  • Don't ignore it
  • Talk to the person you feel is being abused
  • Listen and make a note of times and details
  • Report it by calling Merton's Safeguarding Adults hotline on 0845 618 9762 open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Or by emailing safeguarding.adults@merton.gov.uk

The Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 sets out a legal framework for local authorities and other parts of the system of how we should protect adults at risk of abuse or neglect.

Local Authorities have new safeguarding duties. They must:

  • Lead a multi-agency local adult safeguarding system, that seeks to prevent abuse and neglect and stop it quickly when it happens
  • Make enquiries, or request others to make them, when they think an adult with care and support needs may be at risk of abuse or neglect and they need to find out what action may be needed.
  • Establish Safeguarding Adults Boards, including local authority, NHS and Police, which will develop, share and implement a joint safeguarding strategy
  • Carry out Safeguarding Adult Reviews when someone with care and support needs dies as a result of neglect or abuse and there is a concern that the local authority or its partners could have done more to protect them.
  • Arrange for an independent advocate to represent and support a person who is the subject of a safeguarding enquiry or review, if required.

Any relevant person or organisation must provide information to Safeguarding Adults Boards as requested.

The statutory guidance enshrines the six principles of safeguarding:

  1. Empowerment - presumption of person led decisions and informed consent
  2. Prevention- it is better to take action before harm occurs
  3. Proportionality- proportionate and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented
  4. Protection- support and representation for those in greatest need
  5. Partnerships- local solutions through services working with their communities
  6. Accountability- accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding

The Care Act 2014 recognises that local authorities cannot safeguard individuals on their own; it can only be achieved by working together with the Police, NHS and other key organisations as well as awareness of the wider public. Fears of sharing information must not stand in the way of protecting adults at risk of abuse or neglect.


Types of abuse

Physical abuse

  • Including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions

Sexual abuse

  • Rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing, or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting

Psychological abuse

  • Including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks

Financial or Material abuse

  • Including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult's financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits

Neglect and acts of omission

  • Including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating

Discriminatory abuse

  • Including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment: because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion

Organisational abuse

  • Including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one's own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation

Domestic Violence

  • Including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so called 'honour' based violence

Modern Slavery

  • Encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment

Self Neglect

  • This covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding

Further information


Safeguarding Adults Training


Care Quality Commission (CQC)


Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)


Information Sharing


Home Fire Safety


Useful contacts

Merton Domestic Violence One Stop Shop

The one stop shop is a confidential service for people experiencing domestic violence or abuse in Merton.

Open Monday from 9.30am - 12.30pm (closed Bank Holidays) Morden Baptist Church, Crown Lane, Morden, Surrey, SM4 5BL For more information please telephone: 07852 155945 or 07950 138932

Elder Abuse website
0808 808 8141

Merton CCG website
020 3668 1221

Care Quality Commission
This organisation investigates (in conjunction with Social Services and/or Health) incidents of alleged abuse within residential and nursing homes, home care agencies and nurse agencies
Telephone: 03000 616161

See also