The Care Act, which received Royal assent on 14th May 2014, is set to bring about wide-scale changes to provisions and care for vulnerable adults throughout the country. The Act sets out to reform the law relating to care and support and make provisions about safeguarding adults from abuse and neglect, care standards and Health Education in England.
Essentially, it is an addition to the existing acts that have specific
provisions for vulnerable adults (such as Mental Capacity Act, Community Care
Act, NHS Act etc.), providing a general duty on local authorities to promote an
individual’s well-being, provide preventative measures and put in place a legal
framework for safeguarding vulnerable adults.
It also provides a duty on local authorities to provide services and facilities to prevent or delay needs developing and recognise the support that carers need.
The duty of local authorities
Crucially, the Act introduces a new duty for local authorities to promote an individual’s well being and includes things like treating an individual with respect, having regard to their physical and mental health and emotional well being, and protecting them from abuse and neglect.
A legal framework for safeguarding vulnerable adults
In line with this duty to promote well being and protect from abuse and neglect, the Act also sets out the steps a local authority needs to take to deal with alleged abuse (financial or otherwise).
If a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect an adult in its area is experiencing or is at risk of abuse they must make enquiries to enable it to decide whether any action should be taken in the adult’s case. This means that if a neighbour or a friend suspects something then they can refer it to the local authority and this should be sufficient to mean it has to be investigated.
If you believe a close friend, relative or neighbour is vulnerable and at risk of exploitation, you can also get in touch with myself or another member of our Mental Capacity team. As a Panel Deputy on the Court of Protection, I have first hand experience of dealing with the Court and can provide immediate intervention if necessary.