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Lewisham Safeguarding Adults Board

Guide to common safeguarding words and phrases

Sometimes the language used regarding safeguarding can be confusing and difficult to understand. Here we have given you simple explanations to common safeguarding words and phrases.


Abuse is the breaching of someone’s human and civil rights by another person or people. It may be a repeated or single act; it can be unintentional or deliberate and can take place in any relationship or setting. It includes: physical harm, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological harm, neglect, financial or material abuse, and harm caused by poor care or practice or both in institutions such as care homes. It may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person being abused.

Adult at risk

Anyone aged 18 years or over who may be unable to take care of themselves due to age-related frailty, visual or hearing impairment, severe physical disability, learning disability, mental health problem, substance misuse or because they are providing care for someone else and therefore may be at risk of harm and serious exploitation.

Safeguarding Concern (Adult)

A Safeguarding Concern is when the local authority is first told that an adult at risk may have been abused, is being abused, or might become a victim of abuse. Anyone can raise a Concern: professionals, family members, adults at risk and members of the public. Often a Concern is raised because of a feeling of anxiety or worry for an adult at risk. This feeling can arise because the adult at risk has told you what they are experiencing, you have seen abuse or something risky happening, or you have seen other signs and symptoms such as bruises.

Alleged perpetrator(s) or Person/ organisation alleged to have caused harm or risk

Anyone who has been accused of abusing or neglecting an adult at risk, where this has not yet been proved.

Alleged victim(s)

Adult at risk, who may have been abused, harmed or neglected by someone else, where it has not yet been proved that they are a victim.

Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

A governing body who plan and buy local health and care services that local communities need, including: urgent and emergency care; most community health services; and mental health and learning disability services. CCG's are in the process of being replaced by Integrated Care Systems (ICS) which is part of the NHS's Long-Term Plan.


People who purchase services, often from voluntary and independent sector organisations, to provide health and care services.

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Independent regulator of health and care services in England. CQC inspects providers such as hospitals, dentists and care homes to ensure the care they provide meets government quality and safety standards.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Rules that ensure special protection is given to people who cannot make a decision (‘lack capacity’) to consent to care or treatment (or both) that will be given in a care home or hospital and stops them doing what they want to do (‘deprives them of their liberty’). The hospital or care home has to get special permission to give the care or treatment and must make decisions that are in the person’s ‘best interests’.

Health and Wellbeing Board

Forums that bring together key health and social care leaders to work in a more joined-up way to reduce health inequality and improve local wellbeing. They will listen to local community needs, agree priorities and encourage health and social care commissioners to work better together to meet local needs.


Healthwatch is the independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public. Healthwatch plays a role at both national and local level and makes sure that the views of the public and people who use services are taken into account.

Mental Capacity Act (MCA 2005)

A law that supports and protects people who may be unable to make some decisions for themselves (people who ‘lack capacity’) because of a physical or mental disability or ill-health. It includes a test professionals can perform to tell whether someone can make decisions or not. It covers how to act and make decisions on behalf of people who ‘lack capacity’. It is often used for decisions about health care, where to live and what to do with money.

Partner agencies

Organisations that are members of the Safeguarding Adults Board.

Safeguarding adults

All work that enables adults at risk to retain independence, wellbeing, choice and to stay safe from abuse and neglect.

Safeguarding Adult Review

An SAB must arrange a Safeguarding Adult Review (SAR) when an adult in its area dies as a result of abuse or neglect, whether known or suspected, and there is concern that partner agencies could have worked more effectively to protect the adult. SABs must also arrange an SAR if an adult has not died but the SAB knows or suspects that the adult has experienced serious abuse or neglect.

Safeguarding Enquiry

An enquiry is the action taken or instigated by the local authority in response to a concern that abuse or neglect may be taking place.

Service providers

Organisations that deliver health and/or social care services.

Service user

A person who is a customer or user of a service particularly used in relation to those using social care services.

Unpaid carer

Family, friends or neighbours who provide unpaid support and care to another person. This does not include those providing care and support as a paid member of staff or as a volunteer.


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