in "Who Decides-Lord Chancellors Department" (1997)). In an abusive relationship, disability or age alone does not signify vulnerability. The important factor is inability to follow a daily routine of self-care. The homeless as well as substance abusers are also considered vulnerable (Guidance). This also applies to in-home settings where a vulnerable adult needs care but is not always factored in as needing protection. In the Warrington District, the definition is more generalised-someone with a mental or physical disability who needs support from an agency, relative or friend on a day-to-day basis (Adult Protection in Warrington, Sec. 2). No age limitation is listed and access to support here is more specific. Various districts have policies in effect to protect vulnerable adults, and the overall definition of a vulnerable adult is similar in each district (Adult Protection in Warrington; Clarke; Fillary; Getting a Community Care Service; Protection). Several new policies have been put into place recently through different agencies. Even so, no standardised definition yet exists. The main result of the government's effort to set a standard-Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA)-has been to create a registry of barred abusers who fit specific criteria. Once the list is in place, employers must check before hiring workers involved with children and vulnerable adults.
Types of Abuse
Before an individual is put on a barred list, it must be determined that the person is an abuser. It is one thing to accuse someone of abusing a vulnerable person; it is quite another to prove the abuse. There are five recognised types of abuse:
Sexual - forcing a person to take part in any sexual activity without his or her consent.
Physical - hitting, slapping, burning, pushing, restraining, giving too much medication, or giving wrong medication.
Psychological - shouting, swearing, frightening, blaming, ignoring or humiliating a person.
Financial - illegal or unauthorized use of a person's property, money, pension book or other valuables.
Neglect - when a person is deprived of food, heat, clothing or comfort, essential medication.
Some sort of relationship (familial, care provider) and some expectation of trust between the suspect and the vulnerable adult is necessary. A multi-agency response is expected and a record kept of allegations within the definition of abuse. However, one area not included in the list of recognised abuses is "discrimination" although each of the different types of abuse might be brought about by discrimination. According to the Metropolitan Police Service, the Community Safety Unit will have ultimate responsibility for investigations (Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Sec. 5; Bid to Protect; Guidance).
The Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) scheme was activated by the ministers in 2004 and created a register specifically to list abusers of vulnerable adults. Its purpose was to prevent care workers from abusing people such as the elderly and mentally ill. Care-home owners and care agencies were required to check the list when hiring carers.
This scheme, being run by the Department of Education and Skills on behalf of the National Health Service did not, however, apply to staff working in the NHS or