Don’t treat us like children on abuse, say disabled people


Disabled and older people have called on authorities to listen to the voices of victims of abuse and not treat them like children.
The comments came during a consultation on the government’s review of its No Secrets guidance on protecting “vulnerable” adults from abuse.
One key message from the disabled and older people who took part, according to the government report, was that safeguarding adults at risk of abuse should not come at the expense of choice, control and independence.
They said that decisions on safeguarding “should be taken by the individual concerned”, although they wanted help with “options, information and support”.
And they said that adults at risk “do not want to be treated like children” in a system “designed for children”.
Some professionals reported that they had made “good progress” and “built bridges” on delivering both safeguarding and personalisation of services.
About 12,000 people, including 3,000 members of the public, took part in the consultation.
Professional and voluntary organisations called for better leadership from central and local government, the NHS, the Care Quality Commission, the police and housing bodies.
A small majority of service-user organisations said they did not want new laws on safeguarding, although there was a majority in favour of this across all groups that took part in the consultation, despite concerns that this would “extend the government’s power over people’s lives in a dangerous way”.
There was some support from professionals and voluntary organisations for a controversial new power that would allow bodies such as the police to enter someone’s home if they suspected a “vulnerable adult” was being abused. A small majority of service-user organisations opposed such a power.
The police backed calls for new laws forcing agencies to cooperate, share information and report suspected abuse.
There were also calls for legislation to put local safeguarding adult boards on a statutory footing, to mirror children’s safeguarding boards.
Voluntary organisations working with disabled adults in the justice system called for offences against such people to be taken seriously and dealt with as crimes.
And nine in ten people who answered the question in the consultation wanted the use of the phrase “vulnerable adult” changed, to be replaced with a term such as “person at risk”.
The government said it wanted a system which was “empowering and person-centred, preventative and wide-ranging” and would publish its response to the consultation after examining the findings “in detail”.
20 July 2009


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