Your Tenancy

Support with your tenancy - If you are an adult at risk of abuse.

HOW CAN YOU SAFEGUARD YOURSELF?

THE FACTS

In 2013-14 there were over 100,000 individual adult safeguarding referrals to local authorities across the UK.  Of these there were 56 serious case reviews covering 100 adults at risk, of which 46 suffered serious harm and died and 54 suffered serious harm and survived. (A serious case review takes place when an adult or adults have suffered serious harm). 

Allegations most commonly concern abuse in the person’s home. (42%)

The most common abuse allegation is neglect and acts of omission, (30%) followed by physical abuse (27%)and financial and material abuse (18%). 

Most referrals led to action being taken and the risk either being reduced or removed (57%).  

In 3 out of 10 cases the individual lacked capacity (this means that someone who lacks capacity can, due to an illness or disability such as a mental health problem, dementia or a learning disability, understand information given to them to make a particular decision, retain that information long enough to be able to make the decision, use or weigh up the information to make the decision or communicate their decision.   Almost two-thirds of the individuals had a physical disability, frailty or sensory impairment. 
60% of the individuals were female and 63% were aged 65 or over.   In 49% of allegations the source of the risk was most commonly someone known to the victim.   Only 15% of the allegations were perpetrated by someone unknown to the victim. 

What is abuse?

Physical abuse - When someone hurts you - this could be hitting, kicking, burning, holding down or pushing around

Sexual abuse - When someone touches you or makes you do things you do not like. They could make you touch them or kiss them when you do not want to.

Psychological abuse - When someone says something to upset you - they could say you are stupid, threaten you, make you sad or hurt your feelings. 

Financial abuse - When someone takes your money or things you own without asking. They might spend your money in a way you do not want.

Neglect - When someone who should be looking after you, doesn’t feed you, keep you warm and safe or take you to your doctor’s when you need help

Discrimination - This is when someone treats you badly because of your disability, religion or the colour of your skin.
Institutional abuse - This could happen in a day centre, a hospital or a home when either a member of staff or another person might not treat you dignity and respect. 

It is generally recognised that the perpetrators of abuse or neglect are most commonly people who are trusted and relied on by the person, such as family members or care staff. As with all types of abuse victims are never responsible for their abuse , the perpetrators are responsible. 
Factors making people more vulnerable are: Health (including mental health), Financial Status, ethnicity/religious beliefs, Isolation, Disability, Sexuality, Inadequate housing or homelessness or drug/alcohol dependency.

How to avoid being a victim

Look out for each other, we all have an important role to play in helping to safeguard ourselves and our neighbours, family and friends.  A concerned neighbour is often the best protection against crime because suspicious people and activities are noticed and reported to police promptly.

If you have concerns about someone, trust your instincts.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Keep in mind that victims of abuse may be experiencing other problems and more than one type of abuse. 

Know who is coming into your home, ask for proper identification from delivery people or strangers. Don't be afraid of asking . . . if they are legitimate they won't mind. Phone the company, not just the number on the ID card to check. 
There should not be secrets, you should tell your problems to people you trust.   

Never open your door automatically, use a peephole.

Lock your doors and windows.  Three quarters of the burglaries involving older persons involved unlocked doors and windows and less than one half of these robberies are reported.

Use "Neighbourhood Watch" to keep an eye on your neighbourhood. Don't leave notes on the door when going out.
Decide who is trust worthy, niceness is not a reason to trust someone.  Do not give anyone money or access to your bank account. 

Never give your money to someone who calls on you, identifying themself as a bank official. A bank will never ask you to remove your money. Banks need the use of your money, and they don't want one of their customers to invite crime by having large amounts of cash around.

Never withdraw money from your bank accounts for anyone except YOURSELF. 

When someone approaches you with a get-rich-quick-scheme involving some or all of YOUR savings, it is THEIR get-rich-quick-scheme. If it is a legitimate investment, the opportunity to contribute your funds will still be there tomorrow - after you have had time to consider it. Be wary of unsolicited offers, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, deal only with reputable businesses.

If you have been swindled or conned, report the crime to the police. Con-artists count on their victim's reluctance to admit they've been duped, but if you delay you help them get away. Remember, if you never report the crime, they are free to cheat others again and again and you have no chance of ever getting your money back. 

Most people of any age do not want to think about needing to depend on others.  Many of us are fiercely independent.  We know that isolation is dangerous both emotionally and physically no matter how old or young we are.  Make a safety plan for how to get help everywhere you go and who is going to help you if you are ever in a situation where you cannot take care of yourself. 

Stay busy and engaged in life.  Try not to become isolated.  Cultivate a strong support network of family and friends.
Take good care of yourself, for life.  Older adults in declining health can become more vulnerable to abuse because of the increasing dependence.

Be aware of the link to addiction problems.  People who drink too much or who use other drugs are at high risk of being abusive or being abused.  Reach out to support groups.

Refuse to allow anyone, even a close relative, to add his or her name to your bank account without clear consent.  Never make financial decisions under pressure.  Avoid signing over money or property to anyone without first getting legal or independent advice. 

Assert your right to be treated with dignity and respect.  Be clear about what you will and will not tolerate and set boundaries.  You have the right to make your own decisions.

Trust your instincts.  Listen to the voice inside you when it calls out something is not right.  Ask for help if you need it. 
Before you make any decision obtain independent advice.   The South East Essex Advocacy for Older People serves people from the Borough of Southend-on-Sea.  They are a small independent Charity that advocates on behalf of older people aged 60 and over who experience financial and/or social difficulties in their lives and needs someone to work on their behalf to enable them to access services and benefits to which they are entitled.  Also to safeguard their rights and to empower them to make informed choices to improve their quality of life.”

The Services they provide are:
  • Help obtaining benefits, entitlements
  • Help with completing forms for benefits
  • Help people with their housing choices
  • Give help and advice on Care/Nursing Homes
  • Assist those with debts by means of negotiating with creditors and helping to arrange manageable repayment plans.

They will:
  • Promote and support older peoples’ independence
  • Develop awareness of the importance of independent advocacy amongst service providers and the general public
  • Demonstrate a commitment to working in partnership with older people and service providers to enhance older peoples’ independence

If you feel you are a victim of abuse what should you do?
• Speak to your sheltered housing/tenancy services officer on 0800 833160
• Contact Social Services 01702 215000
• Contact the Police 999 if an emergency or 101
• Contact Crimestoppers-uk.org/essex-elder-abuse on 0800 032 7644
• Ask SAL - Safeguarding Adults Helpline on 08452 66 66 63 visit 

If you report a concern you will be asked to give the person’s name, address, contact information and details about why you are concerned.  You may also be asked for your name and telephone number, or some other way of contact you in case the investigator has any follow-up questions.  Reports can be made anonymously if you do not wish to identify yourself.  Confidentiality of the person making the report will be protected. 

South Essex Homes has a duty to ensure that the people we serve feel safe and secure in their homes.    Included in the new Care Act is a section on Safeguarding and how it specifically relates to adults who have care and support needs.  Local Authorities are required to set up Safeguarding Adult Boards.  These Boards must include services within the local authority, the NHS and the police and must now also include an input from housing providers.   The role of the Board is to ensure the protection of vulnerable people from abuse or neglect.  They will produce and publish plans on how they propose to do this.  There is now a specific duty on Local Authorities to carry out enquiries into reports of abuse and for the person at the centre of the enquiry to be fully involved in decisions.   Boards will also be responsible for arranging Safeguarding Adult Reviews where there has been a failure to safeguard. 

Further advice and support is available on: www.safeguardingsouthend.co.uk