PROTECTING VULNERABLE ADULTS - SECURING
UNISON Scotland's response to the Third Consultation
Paper on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults and Related Matters
UNISON Scotland is pleased to comment on the
Scottish Executive's Third Consultation Paper on the Protection
of Vulnerable Adults.
UNISON believes that there is a pressing need
for additional training to be carried out across the Health
and Social Care Workforce in an attempt to eradicate abuse of
We believe that additional resources will need
to be invested in such training.
We support the creation of Adult Protection
Committees which should be defined in either statute or a statutory
instrument. However, we do not believe they should lead the
investigations of abuse, which should be carried out by the
relevant organisations with findings presented to the Committees
to determine whether intervention is necessary.
Mediation is seen as appropriate in some circumstances,
but with safeguards built in.
We believe there is a place for Guardianship,
but again with safeguards built in.
UNISON believes that there should be a different
provision made for people with learning disability.
We also believe that training for carers of
vulnerable adults, who may have difficulties themselves, should
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
over 150,000 members working in the public sector. UNISON Scotland
represents workers from the NHS and social services throughout Scotland,
many of whom work with vulnerable adults.
Most of our social services workers are employed by
Local Authorities, which we believe is the most appropriate vehicle
for delivery of social care services. We also represent a substantial
number of staff who work in the private and voluntary sector.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to comment
on the Third Consultation Paper on the Protection of Vulnerable
Adults and Related Matters
UNISON Scotland supports the principle of seeking
to protect vulnerable adults in all settings and is generally in
favour of the proposals the Scottish Executive has put forward in
the two previous consultations. We acknowledge the difficulty in
attempting to create the correct balance between protecting the
vulnerable and at the same time, allowing them to lead independent
lives wherever possible. We are also very concerned that the rights
of those staff who may be investigated are upheld as much as those
of the service user.
In this connection we believe that the issue of training
for staff and other people who are involved with vulnerable adults
should be taken into account in this consultation, as we feel this
is a key element in attempting to protect vulnerable adults from
The Scottish Executive must guarantee that sufficient
additional resources are invested in this training, which will be
required across the whole health and social services workforce and
in the community.
We are pleased to note that a fair appeals system
against exclusion from the list of those allowed to work with vulnerable
adults will be incorporated into any proposed Bill.
Question 1: Do you agree with the revised definition
of a vulnerable adult?
Part of the protection of vulnerable adults is included
in the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. Although this
definition of Vulnerable Adult is supported, it should be remembered
that many adults under this heading are vulnerable due to the lack
of training afforded to carers re their specific difficulty, e.g.
Autism. Training should be provided to both family members and employees
of individuals and volunteers who work with those individuals classed
as vulnerable, on, for example, challenging behaviour and how to
deal with violent incidents or sexualised behaviour and how to deal
with it appropriately.
Question 3: Do you agree with the definition of
Question 4: If you do not agree with the definition
of abuse, what changes do you think require to be made?
There should be reference clearly made that abuse
includes verbal, emotional, mental and physical acts, as many individuals
only view the physical act as a term of abuse.
Question 5: Do you agree that Adult Protection
Committees should lead the investigation of abuse, including investigations
of abuse in regulated care services?
The initial investigation of abuse should be carried
out by the organisations involved with all findings passed to the
Adult Protection Committee. The investigatory department should
present their case to the Committee with a decision then being taken
to decide whether their intervention is required. A familiar face
should also be available to the individual who is allegedly being
abused to prevent further stress and unnecessary distress being
placed upon them.
Question 7: Should the structure and powers of
Adult Protection Committees be defined in statute or a statutory
instrument or not?
If the proposed changes from 2.22 to 2.27 are put
in place in full, it should be agreed that Adult Protection Committees
should be defined in statute or a statutory instrument
In 2.27 the level of abuse should be ascertained.
An individual assessment should be carried out in each case to ensure
that this would be in the best interests of the vulnerable adult
and that the perpetrator is fully aware of their actions and the
reasons behind the exclusion. It should also be ascertained what
assistance there was for the individual dealing with the vulnerable
adult, what resources were available to them in dealing with the
individual and whether these resources were provided (Carers Act,
1995). The perpetrator may in fact turn out to be in just as vulnerable
a position as the individual defined as being vulnerable (elderly
parent, sibling, etc.)
Question 8: When abuse of a vulnerable adult is
proved, what risk assessment and management should take place?
When abuse of a vulnerable adult has been established,
an assessment should provide the following:
Whether contact between both parties appropriate
and if so how should this take place, i.e. supervised, in an
identified building, how often, how long;
the vulnerable adult should be assessed for
a package of care. This would include living environment, social,
emotional, physical needs and most importantly, where possible,
the individual's own views, expectations and aspirations.
Identified workers should be provided to give
continuity and stability to the individual
If further intervention is necessary for the
vulnerable adult the environment and sensitivity of the intervention
should be considered, i.e. doctors, hospitals, police, change
of location re living. The individual should not be
taken away from all that is familiar to them. This could be
seen as a punishment for being abused, if not handled carefully,
i.e. familiar landmarks and social activities, the church, day
care, local amenities, etc
Question 9: Do you agree that mediation should
be offered to all those who are subject to abuse? If you do not
agree, please state your key reservations.
Question 10: If mediation were to be offered, how
could this be done?
If mediation is offered it should be because the individual
who has been abused wants it. Prior to any mediation, strict ground
rules and guidelines should be put in place (on an individual basis).
These should include:
Where mediation is to take place
For how long
Purpose of mediation should be clarified
What can or cannot be discussed
Reassessment after each meeting
An advocate for the individual who has been abused
should be provided in order to provide support, encouragement and
Mediatation can be stopped if it is creating further
difficulties for the individual who has been abused. An evaluation
of the effectiveness of mediation should be put in place.
Question 11: Do you agree that guardianship is
the most appropriate method to protect and control some people with
a learning disability who may also exhibit challenging behaviours?
Question 12: If you do not agree, what alternative
methods could be provided other than detention under the 2003 Act?
UNISON agrees, with reservations. If applying for
guardianship the individual who would be overseeing the life of
the individual with a learning disability should have it made clear
in some form of documentation that guardianship does not mean total
control over the rights of the individual. For example, regardless
of an individual's disability, if they are able to communicate through
actions, words or any other form of communication distinct to themselves
regarding their needs or wants then the guardian should provide
them with this opportunity, if within the law, i.e. in relationships,
living arrangements, social experiences. In our experience, in some
instances guardians imposes their own values and lifestyle on the
individual, rather than take what the individual may want into consideration.
This includes issues that could be seen as trivial to others, e.g.
attending funerals, weddings or other social activities or not wanting
to take part in their guardian's choice of lifestyle, e.g. religion,
remaining in the family home, medical arrangements, form of dress,
etc. Informed choice, based on the level of understanding of the
individual should also be provided.
Question 13: Is it preferable to make a different
provision for the compulsory care of people with a learning disability
outwith the 2003 Act?
Question 14: What would the implications of change
be in practice?
UNISON believes that it is preferable to make a different
provision for the compulsory care of people with a learning disability.
Individuals with a learning disability have been denied equal rights
to those who do not have a learning disability in all areas of life.
Many individuals do not appreciate the restrictions
put in place by law as many have never been given the opportunity
to be governed or realise the effects of law/legislation. Many individuals
have been institutionalised since birth or in their youth, either
in hospitals, care homes or even within their family's care. They
have been in a sense, ‘protected' from society and its rules.
New legislation is then introduced through care in
the community and in order to satisfy their own statistics individuals
are forced, too quickly, into the wider community without having
the broader understanding or knowledge of the wider society. Whether
it is right or wrong, many individuals view these institutions as
their home and their existence is based around its boundaries.
To then expect individuals to behave in a manner than
is seen as acceptable to others is a breach of their human rights.
What is learned in a lifetime for others should not be expected
to fall into place in a matter of months, or even years, for those
individuals who have been denied the right to the opportunities
afforded by our society.
Therefore a different provision for the compulsory
care of people with a learning disability should be sought outwith
the 2003 Act or the Act should be amended to include the needs and
rights of these individuals. People who have been institutionalised
by what society previously saw as a means of their or our protection
should not be punished because society has changed or moved the
For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835
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