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Who could be at risk?

Anyone can be at risk of abuse or exploitation.

It is one of the responsibilities of the Devon Safeguarding Adults Board to make sure that health and social care agencies prioritise the wellbeing of all individuals living in Devon. This applies to everyone, not only those people with care and support needs who are already engaged with health and social care services.

Under the Care Act (2014), an adult at risk is someone over 18 years old who:

  • has care and support needs
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • as a result of their care and support needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

Further information about the Care Act (2014).

If someone has care and support needs but is not currently receiving care or support from a health or care service, they may still be an adult at risk.

An adult at risk may therefore be a person who:

  • is old and frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment
  • has a learning disability
  • has a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment
  • has mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder
  • has a long term illness/condition
  • misuses substances or alcohol
  • is a carer such as a family member/friend who provides personal assistance and care to adults and is subject to abuse
  • is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is need of care and support

If you are unsure whether someone meets this criteria, or if you are at all worried that an adult is at risk in any way, please contact Care Direct on 0345 1551 007.

 Who can carry out the abuse?

It is important to remember that anyone can carry out abuse or neglect, including:

  • Partners
  • Family, friends or neighbours
  • Another adult at risk
  • Professionals, volunteers and people paid to provide care services
  • Strangers
  • Your colleagues
  • A manager
  • A member of a place of worship

Most individuals who commit abuse are usually people already known to the adult at risk. However, some people will deliberately exploit or harm individuals who they see as easy targets.

For advice on safer recruitment, please see the information provided on our DBS Checks page. 

If you are concerned that an adult is at risk please call

0345 155 1007

or email

If it’s an emergency call 999