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Home chevron_right Adult social care chevron_right Safeguarding chevron_right Safeguarding adults

Safeguarding adults: a guide

Safeguarding means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.

The law (The Care Act 2014) says that adults must be safeguarded if they:

  • have care and support needs (whether or not the council is helping with those needs)
  • they are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • they can’t protect themselves from either the risk, or the experience, of abuse or neglect, because of their care and support needs

When someone tells us they’re worried that an adult is at risk of abuse or neglect, we call this a ‘safeguarding concern’.



Adult safeguarding aims to:

  • stop abuse or neglect wherever possible
  • address what has caused the abuse or neglect
  • prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to adults with care and support needs
  • safeguard adults in a way which supports them to make choices and have control about how they want to live
  • promote an approach that concentrates on improving life for the adults concerned
  • provide information and support in accessible ways to help people understand the different types of abuse, how to stay safe, and what to do to raise a concern about the safety or wellbeing of an adult
  • raise public awareness so that communities play their part in preventing, identifying and responding to abuse and neglect, alongside professionals

What is abuse?


Abuse can be any of the following:

  • physical abuse
  • domestic abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • psychological abuse
  • financial or material abuse
  • modern slavery
  • discriminatory abuse
  • organisational abuse
  • neglect and acts of omission
  • self-neglect

The Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Board website has more information about the types of abuse, and how to recognise signs that abuse may be happening.

Abuse can happen anywhere. Examples of places where abuse can happen are:

  • care homes
  • day centres
  • hospitals/health services
  • in a carer’s home
  • in your own home (including online)
  • public places
  • supported living arrangements
  • work, college, or university

Abuse can also be carried out by different people, including:

  • family members/relatives (including partners)
  • friends
  • neighbours
  • other service users (including in care homes, day centres, hospitals etc.)
  • professionals (including paid carers)
  • unpaid carers
  • volunteers
  • strangers

Or concerns may relate to self-neglect, where an adult is unable, or unwilling, to take care of themselves.

What happens when we (the council) get a safeguarding concern about you?


We promise to:

  • put you at the centre of our safeguarding enquiries
  • make contact with you either by phone or in person, to ask you how you feel about the concern we have received (we call this ‘making safeguarding personal’)
  • ask you what you’d like to happen about the concerns raised, and the risks to you
  • ask you who you’d like to have supporting you in the safeguarding process (this may be your family members, friends, neighbours, or an advocate)

If you cannot understand the safeguarding process properly (we call this ‘lacking capacity’), we will make sure that your thoughts and wishes are still at the centre of the process by making decisions in your best interests. Find out more about 'lacking capacity' and decisions made in your best interests.

If you’re finding it very hard to be fully involved in the safeguarding process, and there is no other person (who is not a paid professional or carer) to support and represent you, we will get an advocate for you. Advocacy means getting support from another person to help you express your thoughts and wishes, and to help you stand up for your rights.

What happens when we (the council) get a safeguarding concern about someone in your family?


We promise to:

  • put your family member at the centre of the safeguarding process (we call this ‘making safeguarding personal’)
  • involve you in the safeguarding enquiry process (with the consent of your family member)
  • listen to your thoughts and worries

You can find out more about safeguarding in Middlesbrough in our safeguarding adults strategy.

If you're at high risk


There are times when, because of the risks involved, we'll refer you or your family member to our high-risk panel. This is called the Team Around the Individual (TATI) Panel. The panel lets senior managers share information and helps us to think about how we can reduce the risks to you.

You can read our one minute guide to the Team Around the Individual Panel to find out more.