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Ensuring Rights and Preventing Harm, Interagency Guidelines

A Quick Guide

This is a summary for staff and carers about how to recognise harm and what to do immediately when harm is suspected, witnessed or reported. It is still essential to refer to the full guidelines: Adult Support and Protection In Orkney.

What are the Guiding principles supporting Adult Support and protection?

Any intervention in an adult’s affairs should:

What is abuse?

It is the violation of a person’s human rights. This happens through the misuse of power by someone in a dominant position. It also includes neglect (things that are not done to ensure someone’s well-being).

Who is an adult at risk?

The “Three Point Test” will help you assess if the adult, ie someone over 16, meets the criteria:

Who can be an abuser?

Abuser or perpetrator can be a professional carer, informal carer, relative, spouse/partner, volunteer, other ‘adults at risk’ or any other person.

Where can abuse happen?

In any social or health care setting e.g. the family home, hospital ward, care home, day services, social clubs, activities etc.

Main Types of Abuse and Signs of these Types of Harm


Includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, holding the person down (restraint), inappropriate sanctions. Signs include:


Includes rape and sexual assault. Signs include:

Financial or Material

Includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure to hand-over or sign-over property or money, financial transactions, misuse of property, possessions or welfare benefits, reduction in assets. Signs include:


Includes emotional abuse, threats, abandonment, humiliation, intimidation, harassment, verbal abuse, controlling, not allowed contact with other people or services. Signs include:

Neglect and acts of omission

Includes failure to provide: medical or physical care; access to medical, social or educational services; appropriate medication, food or heating. Signs include:


Includes making an unjust distinction on the basis of race, colour, age or gender etc. Signs include: 

Information abuse

Includes denial of information or advice. Signs include:

Human Rights included in the 14 Articles of the Human Rights Act 1998. Signs include:

What to do Immediately when harm is suspected, witnessed or reported

Always record everything in writing: actions, discussions, referrals, decisions etc.

You have a duty to immediately report suspected or actual harm to your line manager or supervisor. A ‘plan of action’ should be agreed in this discussion.

Get the person’s consent to action being taken where there is danger, suspicion or evidence of harm:

Contact the appropriate emergency service

Especially if the person is in immediate physical danger or there is evidence of physical or sexual harm. The emergency services are Police, hospital, Community Social Services (and outside office hours, the Emergency Social Work Service).

When abuse that is a criminal offence is suspected or reported

If the person:

Record in detail the events and action taken. Line managers and supervisors can at anytime contact the relevant Duty Officer at Kirkwall Police Station on 101 to discuss or get advice.

Refer to Orkney Health and Care as soon as possible and within 24 hours. During office hours (09:00 to 17:00) contact the duty worker, on 01856873535. If outwith office hours, please call the Balfour Switchboard on 01856888000 and ask to speak to the Duty Social Worker.

Next steps

Relevant procedures and legislation

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS