Vulnerable Adults

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At this point and time we ONLY work with vulnerable adults where there are always a minimum of 2 PWEM personnel present, or where a member of the host organisation staff is present with at least one PWEM member or where a single PWEM member has been trained / approved by the host organisation to work alone with their vulnerable adults.  Also there must be a clear understanding and agreement by the host organisation that:

  • The vulnerable adult is taking part in a specific activity agreed by all;
  • the expected outcomes for the participant;
  • the potential of having the produced media material published either by Channel PWEM or by third parties. See RELEASE FORM in the APPENDIX-I.

Project Policy

Within all ‘Channel PWEM’ project based activity, it is our policy to:

  • be respectful
  • treat all participants as individuals
  • listen to their needs and aspirations
  • be respectful of their personal space
  • make allowance for their physical and/or mental development phase
  • use appropriate teaching aids and materials
  • discuss and agree boundaries and sanctions with carers / parents / guardians beforehand
  • respect and endeavour to accommodate differences of ability, culture, religion, race and sexual orientation
  • be mature and lead by example

There are also a number of activities which are considered inappropriate and are not allowed when working with adults with intellectual disabilities or other vulnerable adults:

  • we do not ever work alone with them. It is an expressed condition that there are always 2 responsible adults present during all project based activities
  • we do not allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching of any form
  • we do not socialise inappropriately (e.g. outside of structured Project activities)
  • we do not allow and/or use offensive or sexually suggestive physical and/or verbal language

In summary – what do we do?  Basically this is an organisation that is a not-for-profit, has a social ethos and wants to provide an increased feeling of wellbeing for all people who interact with ‘Channel PWEM’.  We want people to enjoy themselves, but within certain well-defined boundaries.  ‘Channel PWEM’ operates in tandem with other organisations, some of whom are experts in the field of protection of vulnerable adults.  We work within their boundaries.  At all times the carers, parents and/or guardians are in control, their charges are always accessible, ‘Channel PWEM’ is simply a facilitator for activities, learning and development.

Working within Institutions

It needs to be stressed and made crystal clear that when we work within an institution we will abide by their policies and procedures.  The board of Channel PWEM will be able to advise you who to contact should an incident regarding the protection of a vulnerable adult occur.  In the event that you do not feel comfortable making that contact, a member of the board will do so on your behalf.  Within Channel PWEM we have adopted a Zero Tolerance policy in the area of abuse.  While we define below what we feel abuse to be, each member should also listen to themselves – if what you witness leaves you with a bad feeling, then do something.  Lack of action is not acceptable – it is, in itself, also a form of abuse.

What is Abuse?

The Health Information and Quality Authority (commonly referred to as HIQA) has defined abuse in its publication ‘The National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities (2013)’ as:

Any act, or failure to act, which results in a breach of a vulnerable person’s human rights, civil liberties, physical and mental integrity, dignity or general wellbeing, whether intended or through negligence, including sexual relationships or financial transactions to which the person does not or cannot validly consent, or which are deliberately exploitative.  Abuse may take a variety of forms:

  • physical abuse, including corporal punishment, incarceration (including being locked in one’s home or not allowed out) over- or misuse of medication, medical experimentation or involvement in invasive research without consent, and unlawful detention of psychiatric patients;
  • sexual abuse and exploitation, including rape, sexual aggression, indecent assault, indecent exposure, forced involvement in pornography and prostitution;
  • psychological threats and harm, usually consisting of verbal abuse, constraints, isolation, rejection, intimidation, harassment, humiliation or threats of punishment or abandonment, emotional blackmail, arbitrariness, denial of adult status and infantilising people with disabilities, and the denial of individuality, sexuality, education and training, leisure and sport;
  • interventions which violate the integrity of the person, including certain educational, therapeutic and behavioural programmes;
  • financial abuse including fraud and theft of personal belongings, money or property;
  • neglect, abandonment and deprivation, whether physical or emotional, in particular an often cumulative lack of healthcare or negligent risk taking, of food or of other daily necessities, including in the context of educational or behavioural programmes;
  • institutional violence with regard to the place, the level of hygiene, the space, the rigidity of the system, the programme, the visits, the holidays.

NOTE-1:  A ‘Vulnerable Adult’ is a person aged 18 or older who, by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness is, or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against ‘significant harm’ or ‘exploitation’.

NOTE-2: Disability is defined in the Disability  Act 2005 as

substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation or to participate in social or cultural life by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.

A copy of this document in electronic form is also available from Channel PWEM and is normally distributed as part of your membership package.  It is a requirement, before working at any HSE centre that you have read and understand this document.  There are 2 forms of the document – the full version and an easy to read booklet.  However, should you not have a copy, please contact a member of the board who will arrange to get you one.


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