Client Protection & Adult Protection

The Safety of the child/adult is paramount

Definitions of Abuse

In relation to all abuse concerning children the Service Provider will adopt and follow in detail the HSE Children First: National Guidance (2011). In relation to Adults the Service Provider will adopt their own agencies policy on Client Protection and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Person’s at Risk of Abuse – National Policy & Procedures.  

In relation to all abuse concerning children & adults the following definitions apply:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the physical injury of a vulnerable adult where the injury was inflicted non-accidentally, or knowingly not prevented, by a person in a position of authority and power, or where there is a significant disparity in status, ability and capacity. Physical abuse may include but is not restricted to the following:

  • Beating
  • Rough handling
  • Bruising, pushing
  • Force-feeding
  • Punching
  • Slapping
  • Causing pain and unreasonable confinement

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is the involvement of persons in sexual activities (contact or non-contact) or sexual relations where there is a significant disparity in status, ability and/or capacity;

  • Intentional touching, fondling or molesting
  • Inappropriate and sexually explicit conversations or remarks
  • Exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act intentionally performed in the presence of the service user
  • Exposure to pornography or other sexuality explicit and inappropriate material
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation of a service user, including any behaviours, gestures or expressions that may be interpreted as being seductive or sexually demeaning to a person with an intellectual disability
  • Consensual or non-consensual sexual activity between a staff member and a service user.


Neglect is defined in terms of an omission or the failure to act properly in safeguarding the health, safety, and well-being of the person.

It can include:

  • Ignoring medical or physical care needs
  • Failure to provide access to:

–  Food

–  Clothing

–  Warmth

–  Supervision/support

–  Safety

Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific point (Children First, 2011).

Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse may arise in the relationship between a care giver and a service user.  It is a consequence of the service user’s needs for attention, approval, consistency and security not being met. Examples of emotional abuse may include:

  • Persistent criticism, sarcasm, hostility or blaming
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Failure to show interest in, or provide appropriate opportunities for, a service user’s cognitive and emotional development or need for social interaction
  • Use of unreasonable disciplinary measures or restraint
  • Disrespect for differences based on social class, gender, race, culture, disability, religion, sexual orientation or membership of the Traveller Community. (Trust in Care 2005).

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse involves:

  • A willful or intentional abuse of a person’s money, possessions or property;
  • Theft by another person which can include embezzlement and  mismanagement of bank accounts;
  • Misuse of benefits;
  • Intimidation and extortion;
  • Lack of competent advice on the financial management of a person’s incomes/assets.

Institutional Abuse

Institutional abuse involves the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to vulnerable people. It occurs within the processes, practices, attitudes and behaviour of an organisation which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and stereotyping.

Institutional/Residential abuse also occurs when staff become desensitised and accept as reasonable practices that their personal principles and values would lead them to question outside the organisation.


Being vulnerable means being at risk of being harmed. People with an intellectual disability can be particularly vulnerable.  Abuse of people with an intellectual disability is significant. There is a high risk of abuse of people with intellectual disabilities for the following reasons:

  1. Communication Difficulties
  2. Sensory Difficulties
  3. Isolation
  4. Dependence on Carers
  5. Power differences
  6. Limited Assertiveness
  7. Limited Ability to recognise inappropriate behaviour
  8. Need for assistance with intimate care
  9. Multiple care services and carers
  10. Staff Turnover
  11. Compliant Behaviour
  12. Limited understanding of sexuality/sexual behaviour
  13. Need for attention, friendship and affection
  14. Limited sense of danger
  15. Inability to see warning signs
  16. Fear of not being believed
  17. Limited reliability as witnesses
  18. History of institutional abuse
  19. Medication
  20. Labelling
  21. Behaviour that Challenges

One of the aims of anyone supporting people with intellectual disabilities should be to protect them from possible harm by:

  • Being sensitive to the needs of the person you support
  • Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of abuse
  • Reporting any concerns
  • Attending training provided


If you are concerned about speaking about a situation be assured that you are doing the right thing for the person you are worried about!