Safeguarding means protecting the health, wellbeing, and human rights of adults at risk, enabling them to live safely, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and reduce both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect. During the COVID-19 crisis, it is particularly important to safeguard adults with care and support needs. They may be more vulnerable to abuse and neglect as others may seek to exploit disadvantages due to age, disability, mental or physical impairment or illness.
This is a time when we must all be extra vigilant and try to pick up any early signs that something is not right.
These groups may be targeted because of several factors. Generally speaking, they may need assistance with some tasks, be less up to speed with technology, more welcoming of new contacts, more trusting.
There is evidence that social isolation increases the likelihood of abuse. Many older and disabled people spend long periods at home alone, and now as the whole nation is being asked to stay at home the same groups are more likely to be alone rather than in a family group.
At a time of international crisis, those who seek to exploit these vulnerabilities are quick to act. We will all have been warned of new scams offering help and advice on COVID-19 or with financial assistance. Many of us will have concerns for family members who may fall prey to fraudsters.