New campaign to tackle adult harm in Scotland

A new campaign is urging people to look out for the signs that someone may be at risk from harm.
A new campaign is urging people to look out for the signs that someone may be at risk from harm.

Adult harm isn’t always easy to identify, but it’s crucial that people with concerns speak out if they think someone is being mistreated, neglected or exploited

The ‘Seen Something? Say Something’ campaign has launched to highlight some of the forms adult harm can take, in a bid to help people spot the signs and situations that could indicate a person is at risk.

There are many cases of adult harm happening in your area every day. Cases like that of a 75-old woman who was being physically harmed by her son, who had a problem with substance misuse.

The son, who lived with his mum, began to stop his siblings from coming to visit. After a relative reported their concerns to social work, an adult support and protection plan was set up for her which resulted in the son being treated for his addiction and being re-homed, protecting the woman from harm and allowing her to enjoy having visitors round to her home.

Adult harm can take place in a range of settings, not just the family home, and it can happen at the hands of anyone, from a relative, spouse or partner, friend, neighbour, volunteer, to a complete stranger.

Warning signs that could indicate an adult is at risk include unexplained cuts and bruises, or refusal to talk about injuries, confusion about where their money has gone, or the appearance of nervousness around certain people.

In another reported case, the daughter of an 84-year-old woman who suffered from dementia was found stealing money from her mother’s bank account. An adult support and protection inquiry was launched after the woman’s bank reported unusual activity. The daughter paid the money back and received support on how to properly manage her mother’s finances.

The campaign is urging people to trust their gut instinct if they see a scenario or situation involving an adult being mistreated that doesn’t feel quite right. One anonymous phone call or email to Social Work can result in your worries being addressed and the case being sensitively investigated.

Paul Comley, Adult Support and Protection Coordinator at WithScotland, a national resource for professionals working with adults at risk, said: “These examples show the different forms adult harm can take and how communities can play an important role in getting vulnerable adults help.

“Sometimes people don’t want to get involved, for fear of being seen to intrude in other people’s lives. Or they are worried they might be wrong about the situation and their actions will result in another person being unfairly accused. But it is vital to raise concerns, and it is safe to do so; the local social work department will check the situation sensitively and support will be given, if needed.”

If you think an adult is at risk of harm and may need help, call your local social work department for advice.

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