Everyone has the right to live their life without being harmed. Many people are able to protect themselves and stop things happening to them that they do not like, but for others this may be more difficult. Some people find it harder to keep themselves or their property safe because they have an illness or a disability that makes them more vulnerable than other people. If this is the case for you, a social worker may be able to help.
The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 has given councils particular duties if they are concerned about someone being at risk of harm. A social worker is involved because someone has said that they are worried about you being at risk of harm and that you may not be able to protect yourself. A social worker then has to make inquiries about your situation. This means that they will want to find out more information about your circumstances to check:
The most important person in any Adult Protection Investigation is the adult who may be at risk of harm: you. A specially trained social worker along with another worker, who may be a Police Officer, will arrange to talk to you about your situation and listen to your views. Unless they believe that you are not able to make your own decision or someone is putting “undue pressure” on you to agree to things that you are not happy with, your views about your circumstances will guide what happens next. If you do not believe that you are being harmed or are at risk of harm, or if you are sure you can protect yourself, the social worker will probably just make a record of this. They will check that you have all the help and support you need in order to live safely, but will not take any other action if you do not want them to. But if you are worried about someone harming you or not looking after you properly, the social worker will talk to you about what they may be able to do to help keep you safe. In many cases just talking about your worries can help. Other things that the social worker may do could include:
The social worker may also talk to other people to get more information about you and your circumstances. They can also arrange for an advocate to work with you and help you to express your views if you are finding this hard.
Once the social worker has spoken to you and gathered as much information as possible about your situation and what you want to happen next, they may call a meeting called a case conference. This is for everyone who is concerned about you to meet together to look at how best to help you protect yourself. You will be invited to the meeting so that you can talk about your worries and how you want everyone to work with you. It can be hard to talk to a room full of people, but it is important that either you or your advocate have the chance to talk about the things that matter to you.
At the end of the meeting (case conference) everyone there will decide whether they think that you are at risk of harm and what support they can give you to reduce this risk.
In some situations the council can use its legal powers to stop someone contacting you when you do not want them to or to help you take yourself away from a situation where you are being harmed. If someone has committed a crime against you, the council will work with colleagues in the Police to ensure that you are protected from harm.