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Martin Searle Solicitors

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults


“Your advice and clarity were invaluable in what was a very complex matter. The result has given both my mother and myself peace of mind.”
‘Emily’, Safeguarding Client 

How to protect a family member or friend from exploitation

What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding will normally – but not always – involve an adult who is considered to lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves about property and finances or health and welfare. In these instances, Social Services will become involved to ensure that such decisions are taken appropriately. However, adults with capacity or fluctuating mental capacity may also need the protection of safeguarding. It may be necessary to apply pressure to Social Services to play a more proactive and/or more timely role where an adult is potentially being exploited or manipulated, where there may be questions about whether they lack mental capacity and where Social Services may perceive this as a family dispute.

The current terminology now being used by Health and Social Services is safeguarding adults at risk (SAR), rather than referring to vulnerable adults.

It may be useful to refer to our list of Abbreviations Used in Community Care Law and Abbreviations Used in SEN and Disability Law.

Best Interest Decision Making

Best interest decision making is a method for making decisions which aims to be more objective than that of substituted judgement, which was the previous test. It requires the decision maker (an independent party, often a Social Worker) to think what the “best course of action” is for the person; this should not reflect the personal views of the decision maker.

Who might need information and advice?

  • Family members and carers
  • Service users
  • Friends and neighbours of the vulnerable adult

The typical enquiry

  • May result from you being told by Social Services that they have reason to believe that there has been neglect, harm or abuse to the adult at risk and that a safeguarding investigation has been commenced. The safeguarding alert may be related to physical or emotional harm, poor care (not necessarily intentional, but the carer/relative being told that they have inadequate skills or experience) or financial abuse
  • May be from the individual who is being abused or exploited; or
  • May be from a relative, carer or friend who is worried about what another person is doing or not doing

If you need help with a safeguarding investigation or need assistance with taking steps to protect a potentially vulnerable adult, contact our Community Care Law team. Cate Searle and the community care law team have a wealth of experience in protecting vulnerable adults from exploitation and can provide specialist advice on a range of matters.

Contact us today on 01273 609911, or email

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