*HEASome adults unable to protect themselves from abuse

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Some adults in Northern Ireland are unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or exploitation because of their situation or circumstances.

Last year over 3000 referrals were made to Health and Social Care Trusts because of concerns that individuals were at risk of abuse.

At a conference organised by the Northern Ireland Adult Safeguarding Partnership (NIASP), health care staff from across Northern Ireland heard how they have a lead role to play in preventing, detecting and providing protection to adults at risk in Northern Ireland.

NIASP has been working as a multi-agency partnership since 2010 bringing together representatives from organisations and communities of interest who have a significant contribution to make to safeguarding adults at risk of harm.

Joyce McKee, Regional Adult Safeguarding Officer, Health and Social Care Board said, “Most adults live independent, comfortable and secure lives but unfortunately some individuals do experience abuse or harm. For many people, the first place they feel safe enough to disclose the fact that they are being abused is in the Emergency Department of their local hospital or in a GP surgery.

“It is vital that staff who work in settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and nursing homes know how to prevent abuse, recognise it when it happens and know how to respond to the abuse of adults.”

Speakers at the conference addressed the full range of potentially abusive and exploitative behaviour in relation to adults at risk including financial, sexual and domestic abuse and human trafficking.

Dr Olive Buckley, GP and Chair of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre Development Group (SARC) said, “NIASP is to be congratulated for organising the conference. It is important that health care staff have a clear pathway for raising and dealing with concerns in order that individuals at risk receive the best protection that can be provided while in the care of health service staff.”

The conference was live streamed to the Safeguarding Adults at Risk Information Hub (SAaRIH) website, a central online information service for professionals with a responsibility for safeguarding.

It is it now available for members to view at any time. This innovative approach will enable health care professionals across United Kingdom to learn from experiences in Northern Ireland. SAaRIH can be accessed at www.saarih.com