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Adults and older people

Adult Support and Protection

Pages relating to protecting adults at risk of physical, emotional, property or financial harm.

Sometimes adults need protecting too

East Renfrewshire Adult Protection

Every individual has a right to a life free from fear; to be treated with dignity; and to have their choice respected and not be forced to do anything against their will.

Most adults with mental illness, physical or learning disabilities or other special needs manage to live their lives comfortably and securely. They either do this independently or with assistance from carers, relatives, friends, professionals or volunteers. However a small number of adults are particularly vulnerable to harm. Everyone has a responsibility towards protecting adults from harm and the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 enables this.

If you or an adult you know needs help call your local council free at 0141 451 0866. (Single Point of Access number to all health and care services.)


What can I do?

If you are worried that you or someone you know is being harmed, is being neglected or their property is at risk it is important to tell someone.

Remember, the person who did this may be doing it to others too. Or it could be that the person who is being harmed or neglected may not be able to report it themselves. Even if the harm happened many years ago it is still important to report it.

What to do and who to contact

If you or the adult being harmed is in immediate danger or if the adult requires urgent medical assistance you should phone 999.  If medical help is required you should make contact with NHS 24 or your local GP surgery:

If it is less urgent and you want to report harm you think or know is happening to an adult, you can contact: 0141 451 0866.

Information and advice will be offered so that the adult and their family can decide what practical help they need or what action they wish to take.  If they are unable to make a decision assistance will be given to support and protect them.

You can also contact the following organisations with your concerns or for advice and information:

Who is an Adult at Risk?

"Adult" means an individual aged 16 or over.  They might be:

  • Older adults who are dependent on the help of others.
  • Adults with learning disabilities.
  • Adults with a physical or sensory impairment.
  • Adults with mental health problems.
  • Adults unable to protect themselves from serious harm or being taken advantage of.
  • Adults who are neglecting themselves.
  • Adults who are influenced by others to make harmful decisions against their will.

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 defines adults at risk as adults aged 16 or over, who:

  • Are unable to safeguard themselves, their property, rights or other interests, and
  • Are at risk of harm, and
  • Because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than others who are not so affected.

Further information on the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) 2007 Act and Protecting Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) 2007 legislation on can be found on the Scottish Government website:

What is harm?

"Harm" includes all harmful conduct and includes:

  • Physical harm (including that of a sexual nature).
  • Psychological harm (by causing fear, alarm or distress).
  • Unlawful conduct which affects property, rights or interests (for example, taking someone's welfare benefits, theft of money or property, fraud, embezzlement or extortion).
  • Self-harm.
  • Neglecting someone you are meant to be caring for, either intentionally or unintentionally, this could include family, friends or paid carers.

Harm can be many things and Social Work will seek to support families and carers to stop harm to an adult at risk.

Possible signs of harm

  • Unexplained or unusual injuries.
  • A delay in seeking treatment for injuries or illness.
  • Sudden increase in confusion.
  • Unexplained deterioration in the adult's health or neglected appearance.
  • The adult being anxious, afraid or withdrawn.
  • Misuse of medication, e.g. not giving medicines properly.
  • Pressure by family or professionals to have someone moved into or taken out of care.
  • Hostile or unkind behaviour towards the adult.
  • Unexplained debt, not paying bills for services.
  • Not having basic needs met, such as adequate food or heating.
  • Not being provided with information on rights or entitlements, or being misinformed.
  • Harassment about age, gender, disability, race, colour, sexual or religious orientation.
  • Another person using possessions, bank account or property without the adult's informed consent.
  • The adult not receiving care, which would protect them from harm.

Key information from the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007

  • The Act says that adults at risk of harm have a right, where they have the ability to do so, to decide if they want support and protection from harm.
  • The Act sets out duties and powers for councils where it is 'knows or believes' that a person is an adult at risk and that it might have to intervene to protect them. When such information becomes known, from whatever source including anonymous information, the council has a duty to make inquiries. This to ensure that any adult at risk is given support and/or protection to remove or reduce the risk of harm they are facing.
  • The Act deals with the protection of adults at risk of harm and a short introduction and easy read version has been produced by the Scottish Government

A leaflet called Adult Support and Protection: Ensuring Support and Preventing Harm is also available for download:

Further information for agencies

All agencies operating in East Renfrewshire are expected to report harm to an adult at risk by telephoning the adults care manager or social work department on 0141 451 0866.


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