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Definition of neglect: The failure of any person, who has responsibility for the charge, care or custody of an adult at risk, to provide the amount and type of care that a reasonable person would be expected to provide. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional.

A considerable proportion of safeguarding adults work relates to the abuse or neglect of people with care and support needs who are living in their own homes but also in places like care homes, hospitals or day centres

Types of neglect and acts of omission

  • Failure to provide or allow access to food, shelter, clothing, heating, stimulation and activity, personal or medical care
  • Providing care in a way that the person dislikes
  • Failure to administer medication as prescribed
  • Refusal of access to visitors
  • Not taking account of individuals’ cultural, religious or ethnic needs
  • Not taking account of educational, social and recreational needs
  • Ignoring or isolating the person
  • Preventing the person from making their own decisions
  • Preventing access to glasses, hearing aids, dentures, etc.
  • Failure to ensure privacy and dignity

Neglect and poor professional practice may take the form of isolated incidents or pervasive ill treatment and gross misconduct. Neglect of this type may happen within an adult’s own home or in an institution. Repeated instances of poor care may be an indication of more serious problems. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional.

Possible indicators of neglect and acts of omission

  • Poor environment – dirty or unhygienic
  • Poor physical condition and/or personal hygiene
  • Pressure sores or ulcers
  • Malnutrition or unexplained weight loss
  • Untreated injuries and medical problems
  • Inconsistent or reluctant contact with medical and social care organisations
  • Accumulation of untaken medication
  • Uncharacteristic failure to engage in social interaction
  • Inappropriate or inadequate clothing
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