Thousands of safeguarding concerns raised about vulnerable adults in Sheffield

Thousands of safeguarding concerns were made about vulnerable adults in Sheffield last year, new figures show.
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Age UK said the figures, which showed the number of concerns raised across England doubling in the last four years, coincided with a period of long-term underfunding from the Government.

NHS Digital figures show 3,275 concerns of abuse were made about adults with care and support needs in Sheffield in the year to March.

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The number of abuse concerns rose to 475,560 across England last year, more than double the number there were in 2015-16.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UKCaroline Abrahams of Age UK
Caroline Abrahams of Age UK
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Age UK said this increase was significant, but said it was hard to judge how much of this was due to greater awareness, instead of an increase in abuse.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams added: "However, it is important to note that the biggest single category of these concerns was that of 'neglect', mostly applying to people living in their own homes.

"We know that both social care and community health services, like district nurses, were under enormous pressure at this time due to long term underfunding, weakening the safety net that protects older people living at home, many of them alone.

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"These worrying figures may reflect the struggle of our vital local health and care services to meet the needs of growing numbers of sick older people living at home, with static or decreasing government resources.

"And sadly, we can only guess at how bad the same figures may turn out to be next year, once the impact of the pandemic is factored in."

If councils believe an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, they must carry out a Section 42 enquiry, to determine whether they need to take action.

Sheffield City Council completed 1,660 such enquiries last year, with (39%) involving neglect or acts of omission – the most commonly cited issues.

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These were followed by psychological abuse (28%) and financial or material abuse (26%).

Of the enquiries concluded last year, safeguarding incidents were found to have occurred most often in adults' own homes, on 820 occasions.

There were also 490 in care homes and 150 in uncategorised locations.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said any abuse of people in care is "abhorrent" and has no place in society.

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He added: “If an adult with care and support needs appears to be at risk and unable to protect themselves, the local authority has a statutory duty to carry out safeguarding enquiries. Any kind of abuse should immediately be reported and the police involved if necessary.

“Our priority is to ensure everyone gets the care and support they need throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with £4.6 billion made available so local authorities can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.