The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has published three new documents on the safeguarding of vulnerable adults:

  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy;
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Procedures and Guidance; and
  • Protocol for working together to safeguard vulnerable adults (office of the OPG and Local Authorities).

The documents can be accessed here.

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy covers any person who has a deputy appointed by the court, is the donor of a registered enduring power of attorney or lasting power of attorney, or is someone for whom the court authorised a person to carry out a transaction on their behalf under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. These people are defined in the policy as vulnerable adults.

The Pubic Guardian’s statutory role is to supervise deputies appointed by the Court of Protection to investigate complaints or concerns about registered attorneys and also to investigate the actions, if necessary, of other people acting under an order of the Court of Protection. This policy is to guide those working at the OPG when dealing with vulnerable adults. It sets out very clearly pre-disposing factors which could lead to abuse, signs of abuse and how the OPG will investigate any allegations of abuse where the office has some involvement.

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Procedures and Guidance

In addition to the Safeguarding Policy there are also new procedures and guidance for the OPG to follow. They set out the procedures and timescales to be followed in response to allegations or suspicions of abuse of a vulnerable adult. The aim of the policy is for the OPG to be able to prevent abuse from occurring and/or continuing where possible, to identify the abuse promptly, to ensure the abuse ceases and the perpetrator is dealt with wherever possible and to notify the local authorities, police and other appropriate agencies when an abuse situation is identified. The Procedure and Guidance document sets out very clearly how the OPG should investigate any allegations of abuse where there is the involvement of a deputy or registered attorney or another person acting under an order of the Court of Protection.

Protocol for working together to safeguard vulnerable adults (office of the OPG and local authorities)

The protocol for working together to safeguard vulnerable adults is a document that sets out how local authorities and the OPG should work together to safeguard adults in their area. This guidance extends and expands the No Secrets guidance from the DH, which is presently being reviewed. This protocol will be updated once the review of the No Secrets guidance has been completed.

The protocol sets out clearly the definition of a vulnerable adult, taken from that in the No Secrets guidance, as a person ”who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or be unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation. This can include people who are capable or incapable.”

The aim of the protocol is to enable local authorities to refer concerns to the OPG where a person falls within the OPG’s definition of a vulnerable adult.

These three documents produced by the OPG, work together to ensure that any person who is concerned about abuse against a vulnerable adult is clear about the responsibilities of the OPG and local authorities in dealing with safeguarding issues. Healthcare staff who deal with vulnerable adults should review the documents as they are a useful supplement to the No Secrets guidance.