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Safeguarding adults – forms of abuse

Peter Ellis - Independent Nursing, Health and Social Care Consultant, Writer and Educator First published: Last updated:

There are many different forms which the abuse of adults can take.  Nurses should be aware of what these are in order that they:

  • Recognise it when they see people affected by it
  • Recognise it within their workplace
  • Can avoid inadvertent abuse

The forms which adult abuse take are varied and, to some extent, the forms of abuse nurses encounter will be dictated by the areas in which they work and the types of patients they care for.

Physical abuse

This is the form of adult abuse people most often think of in the care setting and the community. Examples of physical abuse include:

  • Slapping
  • Pinching
  • Kicking
  • Rough handling
  • Over / inappropriate use of restraint
  • Deliberately leaving someone uncomfortable
  • Deliberately overmedicating someone, e.g. sedation

(Social Care Institute for Excellence, SCIE, 2020)

Nurses should be alert to these issues not only because other people perpetrate them, but because it is easy

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Peter Ellis

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