Vulnerable Adults Policy Statement

PARCS recognises that some of its service users are vulnerable and may require additional or specific supports in order to protect their safety and welfare and promote their rights to services. As part of its duty of care towards service users, PARCS is committed:

To carry out its functions in ways that support and enable all service users to easily access, understand and participate in services provided, and to have their views sought and considered;

To take action when concerns arise in relation to vulnerable service users, and to work collaboratively with others to protect vulnerable service users from mistreatment or exploitation;

To increase staff awareness and recognition of the issues involved.


Duty of Care

A duty of care may arise through common law, regulations and contractual arrangements.

Staff and volunteers have a duty of care towards those who use PARCS services. This means they have a responsibility to promote the rights and inclusion of service users wherever possible in PARCS provision of services, and to actively promote their safety and welfare.

Legal Framework

The Government’s White Paper ‘Modernising Social Services’

Published in 1998, this stresses the importance of improving the protection for adults needing care and support.


The Care Standards Act 2000

This established the National Care Standards Commission, now Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), which is England’s independent regulator for social care, private, voluntary and healthcare services.


‘Speaking up for Justice’

This 1998 report highlighted the treatment of vulnerable or intimidated witnesses in the criminal justice system and the need to obtain best evidence. This resulted in their eligibility for special support measures under Part 2 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 supported by the Home Office ‘Action for Justice’ and ‘Achieving Best Evidence’ Guidance.


The Human Rights Act 1998

This places a positive duty upon public bodies to act compatibly with the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. This includes having respect for private and family life, and freedom from discrimination or degrading treatment.


‘No Secrets’

This 2000 guidance published by the Department of Health under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 builds upon the Government’s respect for human rights and details a national policy on the protection of vulnerable adults through effective multi-agency teamwork.


Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

In response to recommendation 19 of the Bichard Inquiry Report into child protection procedures following the Soham murders, new arrangements for people whose jobs and voluntary work bring them into contact with children and vulnerable adults (previously referred to as the vetting and barring scheme) was initially phased in from October 2009 under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, but then halted whilst the vetting and barring scheme (VBS) was reviewed and ‘remodelled’ by the Coalition Government.

The aim of the scheme was to provide a more effective and streamlined vetting service for potential employees and volunteers. This means that the previous vetting system using List 99 and POCA was integrated to create a single list of people barred from working with children.

In addition a separate, but aligned, list of people barred from working with vulnerable adults was also established, replacing POVA. In effect, there are just two lists: the children’s barred list and the adult’s barred list.

The scheme also aimed to ensure that unsuitable individuals are barred from working, or seeking to work with children and vulnerable adults and the earliest opportunity. As from 01 December 2012 the decision on who should be placed on the barred lists will lie with the new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), an independent statutory body formed from the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority The Act covers regulated and controlled activity providers, so widening the scope particularly in relation to vulnerable adults as opposed to the previous POVA scheme.


Aims of the policy

  • To serve as a public statement of PARCS recognition of the rights of vulnerable adults to full inclusion in services, and that without additional support, vulnerable people are open to inequality of service provision;
  • To provide a consistent approach across PARCS services to assist the inclusion of vulnerable adults and promote the equality of service provision to them;
  • To encourage attitudes and practices that help to create a responsive atmosphere in which individuals can be included in service delivery and have their voices heard;
  • To respond appropriately and in a timely way to issues of inequality, abuse or exploitation, by following the procedures of host authorities or partnership agencies for safeguarding adults;
  • To enable staff through training or other means to understand the importance of not allowing their own ethical or moral beliefs to intrude into their professional practice, or to impose their own values and standards on their service users or colleagues.

What we will do to achieve the aims

To achieve the aims PARCS will:

  • Promote the inclusion of vulnerable adults through the policies and practice of the agency
  • Work together to safeguard and protect adults
  • Provide clear guidance on the identification of vulnerable adults
  • Respect Equal Opportunities

- Promote the inclusion of vulnerable adults through the policies and practice of the agency

Examples include:

  • Ensuring that all documents and records used in service provision are written in a form that is clear and easy to understand;
  • Providing additional support to services users where required, such as inclusion of specialist interpretation, advocates or other supportive adults;
  • Allowing for additional time before, during and after meetings to allow the service user to understand and discuss or question the information or decisions relevant to the meeting;
  • Providing the service user with timely, simplified written summaries of the content of meetings or visits, and of decisions made by the agency.

- Work together to safeguard and protect adults

  • Raise staff awareness of adult vulnerability and the need for prevention and reduction in risk in service provision.
  • Enable staff to identify the mistreatment of vulnerable adults and to respond to concerns and allegations in a considered and proportional manner, using the relevant multi agency framework of referral.
  • Act in accordance with the adult’s wishes, balanced with our judgment of their mental capacity, their best interests and our duty of care to others, including children.
  • Share information within legal and ethical constraints to safeguard adults.
  • Support everyone’s entitlement to civic and Human Rights. This includes ensuring carers receive appropriate advice and support services.
  • Understand and respect equal opportunities, anti-discriminatory practice and diversity issues.

- Provide clear guidance on the identification of vulnerable adults
A person’s vulnerability and ability to protect themselves is determined by personal factors and environmental factors. These include:

  • Social Isolation
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Minority status
  • Mental Incapacity
  • Physical or mental frailty
  • Disability, physical or learning
  • History of abuse as a child
  • Drug/alcohol misuse
  • Early loss of parent
  • Communication difficulties
  • Institutionalisation

The impact of one or more of these factors may result in service users having specific needs for additional supports in order to make the best use of services, to understand what service is being provided, and to ensure that their views are clearly communicated.

Respect Equality

It is acknowledged by PARCS that its service users may come from an environment where there has been multiple deprivation, abuse, and social disadvantage. This may require additional consideration by staff and volunteers to understand the specific needs of the service user and to actively seek to provide sensitive and effective methods of working together to overcome these disadvantages.



See also Safeguarding Children: Actions to be taken in the event of concerns about a child



The following guidance is intended to assist staffs who have concerns for the safety and welfare of adult service users.

If you are working with a vulnerable adult service user, you may see or hear about situations that give rise to concern either to you or the service user. Examples include: exploitation or abuse of the adult, current or historical information which may give cause for concern about the safety or welfare of a child or other adults, criminal activity.
Remain calm, listen patiently, and treat the information seriously.
Reassure the person who is telling you their concerns or demonstrating to you that there may be cause for concern that they are doing the right thing in doing so.
Tell them what you will do next.
Do not promise confidentiality. Explain that you will have to share information, but that you will do so only with those people who need to know it.
Remember to consider your own safety as well as that of others.
Discuss the case with your supervisor immediately and decide the next action to be taken. If the decision is to make a referral to Social Services or to the police, the formal referral procedure should be followed which is relevant to the local authority responsible for the service user.
Make a prompt legible record of what you saw or were told, using the adult’s actual words.
Note the name of any witnesses, accurate times and the reasons for actions you took. Make sure you distinguish between fact and opinion. Sign and date your record.



In October 2005 the Association of Director of Social Service Departments (ADSS) launched the Safeguarding Adults: A National Framework of Standards. This contains a collection of good practice examples and a set of eleven standards for safeguarding adults.

Note: There has been a shift in language from ‘vulnerable adult’ as used in the No Secrets D o H guidance document to ‘safeguarding adults’.