Adult protection of people with intellectual disabilities: incidence, nature and responses

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Background There has been increasing recognition of the importance and extent of abuse of vulnerable adults, including people with intellectual disabilities, leading to the development of monitoring systems. This paper reports findings from one of the largest databases in the UK collected between 1998 and 2005. Method Analysis of the 1926 referrals relating to people with intellectual disabilities included description of the nature of abuse and the responses to the referrals, comparisons to those relating to other client groups and comparisons between those placed locally and those placed out-of-area. Results About one-third of all adult protection referrals related to people with intellectual disability, remaining consistent over time. However, the number of referrals increased significantly. The majority of people lived in residential care or supported living and this was reflected in the nature of the referrals – people were more likely to have been abused in the care home and by staff or service users than those without an intellectual disability. The most common type of abuse was physical abuse. Sexual abuse was more prevalent in the intellectual disability sample than in other client groups. People with intellectual disability were more likely to have experienced follow-up action, usually through more monitoring. There was a different pattern of abuse seen in those placed out-of-area. Conclusions The overall pattern of abuse is similar to that reported in earlier studies. There is some indication that residential situation and in particular being placed in a residential placement out-of-area, may be an important factor in predicting adult protection referrals.


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