Back to The duty to report an adult at risk of abuse and/or neglect

Managing concerns from the general public

Whilst reports from the general public remain low, they are increasing in number because of a growing public awareness of abuse and neglect.

The duty to report safeguarding concerns applies to practitioners not only in the work context but also in their private lives. Practitioners therefore, have a responsibility to report any concerns they are alerted to from, for example, a neighbour, family member, friend at a party etc.

Example: An occupational therapist is at a party. Another guest begins talking to them and tells the occupational therapist that her husband had a brain injury because of a motor cycle accident. She says that she is finding it increasingly difficult to care for him, and on occasions has lost her temper and hit him.

It is important that you let the member of the public know you have a duty to report concerns.

Practitioners may be approached by members of the public who have concerns about an adult at risk.

Example: A visitor to a hospital ward tells a member of nursing staff that a patient in the bed next to their family member has told them that her husband ties her to the bed when he wants to go out. This patient has early onset dementia.

If a member of the public discusses their safeguarding concerns with a practitioner either in their work or home life, the practitioner has a duty to report the concerns to social services. They should not leave it to the member of public to make contact with social services or advise the person to contact social services directly.

When making a report that comes from the general public, practitioners should:

Where possible members of the public should be encouraged to provide their contact details.