Understanding the Vulnerable Adults Act

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Understanding the Vulnerable Adults Act


The Vulnerable Adults Act (“the Act”) came into force on 19 December 2018. It seeks to safeguard vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect or self-neglect, and allows government social services to intervene and render assistance or protection as a last resort when family and community interventions fail. Here are some key facts on this new law.

Fact:

Who is considered a vulnerable adult?

Under the Act, a vulnerable adult includes any individual aged 18 years and above (including the elderly), with mental or physical disabilities, and who is unable to protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect, or self-neglect as a result of these disabilities.

What constitutes abuse, neglect or self-neglect under the Act?

The Act defines these key terms under section 2 to enable the public to better understand the various types of abuse or neglect, where the State can then intervene as a last resort to protect the vulnerable adult.

‘Abuse’ includes physical, emotional or psychological abuse. It is also defined as controlling or dominating conduct or behaviour which causes the individual to fear for his or her safety or well-being, or conduct or behaviour that unreasonably deprives or threatens to unreasonably deprive the vulnerable adult’s freedom of movement or well-being.

‘Neglect’ means the lack of provision of essential care – such as food, clothing, medical aid and lodging – to an individual that causes personal injury, physical pain or injury to physical/mental health.

‘Self-neglect’ occurs where an individual fails to perform essential tasks of daily living (including but not limited to eating, dressing and seeking medical aid) to care for himself/herself. This results in the individual living in grossly unsanitary or hazardous conditions; suffering from malnutrition or dehydration; or suffering from an untreated physical or mental illness, or injury.

The infographic below explains more about the Act.

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