Keeping safe from abuse

Adults at risk

Everyone has the right to live without fear of being abused and with their rights and choices respected.

We say an adult is an 'adult at risk' – previously known as a 'vulnerable adult' – if they:

  • have needs for care and support
  • are experiencing – or are at risk of – abuse or neglect
  • are unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect, or the risk of it, as they have needs for care and support

Adults can be at risk because they:

  • have a mental health problem or mental illness, including dementia
  • have a physical disability
  • have a sensory impairment
  • have a learning disability
  • are old and frail
  • are experiencing a temporary illness

An adult at risk may find it hard to make their wishes and feelings known. This can make them vulnerable to abuse. It may also mean they are not able to make their own decisions or choices.