DPA What Is Harm

What is harm?

Harm is defined as all harmful conduct - some examples of this include:

Physical: hitting, slapping, pushing, shaking, locking them  in a room, tying to a chair, restricting their freedom.

Psychological: threats of harm, being left alone, humiliation, intimidation, causing distress, verbal abuse, bullying, blaming, constant criticism, controlling, depriving contact with others.

Neglect: failure to provide medical or physical care, access to a doctor or other services, or denying someone medication, food or heating, privacy or dignity, self neglect.

Financial: stealing, fraud, pressure to hand over or sign over property or money, misuse of property or welfare benefits, or stopping someone getting their money or possessions, scammed by rogue traders, by scams online, by email or by post.

Sexual: any sexual activity that a person doesn’t understand or want, photographing, sexual harrassment, voyeurism.

Self-Harm: the adult is engaging (or is likely to engage) in conduct which causes (or is likely to cause) self harm.

Information: witholding information or advice about rights or entitlements.

Discrimination: because of age, colour, disability, gender, race, religion, cultural background or sexual orientation.

The list is not exhaustive and no category of harm is excluded simply because it is not explicitly listed.

Where can harm happen?

It can happen in the family home, hospital ward, care home, day services, social clubs, day centres, at work and in public places.

Possible signs of harm include:

  • unexplained or unusual injuries
  • a delay in seeking treatment for injuries or illness
  • sudden increase in confusion
  • unexplained deterioration in health or appearance
  • people being anxious or afraid
  • misuse of medication e.g. not giving medicines properly
  • unexplained changes of behaviour e.g. becoming anxious and withdrawn, fear of another person
  • pressure by family or professional(s) to have someone moved into or taken out of care
  • hostile or unkind behaviour by a person
  • unexplained debt, not paying bills for services
  • not having their basic needs met, such as adequate food or heating
  • not being provided with adequate information about their rights or emtitlements, or being misinformed
  • prejudicial actions or remarks to the adult at risk about age, gender, disability, race, colour, sexual or religious orientation
  • another person using the adult's possessions, bank account or property without his or her informed consent
  • the adult at risk not receiving appropriate care, which would protect them from harm

Who can cause harm?

Anyone. For example it could be a:

  • member of staff in a health/care setting
  • carer
  • relative
  • spouse or partner
  • friend or neighbour
  • volunteer
  • stranger

Who will act against harm?

Staff from Dundee City Council, NHS Tayside, and Tayside Police will along with others, work together to protect “adults at risk of harm”.

Dundee City Council has a duty to  inquire and investigate cases where harm is known or suspected. Designated council officers have powers to visit and interview people, to arrange medical examinations and to examine records. They must also consider whether there is any need for advocacy and other services, such as help with medication, or support services.