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Neglect is the failure of any person who has responsibility for the care of an adult who needs care and support to provide the amount and type of care that a reasonable person would be expected to provide. This includes including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Neglect can take several forms and can be the result of an intentional or unintentional act(s) or omission(s).

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 wilful neglect and ill-treatment of a person lacking capacity is a criminal offence and can result in a fine or imprisonment.

Under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 it is an offence for a care worker or care provider to ill-treat or wilfully neglect an individual in their care.

Examples of neglectful behaviour: failure to provide food, shelter, clothing, heating, medical care or access to medical care, hygiene, personal care, under- or over- use of medication; failure to provide an adequate or reasonable standard of support that could reasonably be expected to be provided; failure to adhere to relevant standards of care and professional codes of conduct; Lasting Power of Attorney (relating to welfare or finance) not being used in the best interests of the person.

Possible indicators of neglect

  • Unsanitary, verminous and/or very unclean conditions in environments where the adult should be receiving appropriate care and support
  • Poor skin condition related to poor skin hygiene and/or skin care
  • Dehydration and/or malnourishment unrelated to diagnosed illness
  • Rashes, sores, lice on the person
  • A lack of basic possessions, which the person might reasonably be expected to own
  • Untreated medical needs
  • Lack of appropriate support with basic care, including personal care
  • The adult who needs care and support telling you that they are experiencing neglect
  • Inadequate physical environment, inadequate protection from the sun or heat, inadequate heating
  • Inconsistent or reluctant contact with health or social care agencies
  • Avoidable and unnecessary deterioration of health or well-being of the individual
  • Behavioural changes.


Last updated: Mar 08 2024

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