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Staying safe

Neglect and omission

Neglect is defined as not providing reasonable, appropriate or agreed care or a failure to act in a way that any reasonable person would act, and can include:

  • not responding to a person's basic needs, i.e. assisting with feeding, drinking, toileting or in meeting personal care needs
  • preventing someone else from responding to those needs
  • not meeting the basic standards of care or professionalism
  • withholding or preventing access to medical care or treatment
  • withholding or preventing access to the receipt of goods or services
  • being prevented from interacting with others
  • failing to undertake a reasonable assessment of risk or allowing a person to harm themselves or cause harm to others

When a manager or other care provider in a position of responsibility does not ensure that the appropriate care, environment or services are provided to maintain the health and safety of adults at risk in their care, then they may be open to a charge of "Wilful Neglect".

The Mental Capacity Act 2005, introduced on the 1st April 2007, also created a new criminal offence of the "Ill Treatment" or "Wilful Neglect" of a person who lacks capacity.

These can include:

  • poor physical condition or appearance, skin ulcers or pressure sores, pale or sallow complexion  
  • unkempt appearance, poor hygiene, inadequate or dirty clothing, the stench of urine or faeces
  • unexplained weight loss, malnutrition or unexplained weight gain, over-feeding, dehydration
  • reduced mobility or immobility due to deprivation of aids
  • hypothermia due to inadequate heating or lack of appropriate clothing
  • being left in a wet or soiled bed
  • callers / visitors are refused access to the person
  • person is exposed to unacceptable risk
  • person is unable or is denied access to appropriate medical care or medication
  • person is unable or is denied access to relatives, friends, other service users, advocates or other members of the community
  • inappropriate administering of medication
  • inconsistent or reluctant contact with health and adult services.