Adult Support and Protection

A Personal Assistant’s responsibilities around Adult Support and Protection

The law that covers this area is called The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007. It deals with adults who are:

  • unable to safeguard themselves, their property, rights or other interests
  • at risk of harm, and
  • more vulnerable to being harmed because they are disabled, have a health condition or illness (including mental ill health), or their capacity is affected.

The definition of harm

Under the law, ‘harm’ includes physical harm, psychological harm (eg. by causing fear, alarm or distress), harm to a person’s property, rights or interests (eg. theft, fraud, embezzlement or extortion), and self-harm.

Harm may be caused by:

  • A person well known to the adult, including relatives and those employed to support the person
  • A stranger
  • The person themselves
  • A situation, for example when an adult’s ability to manage independently declines and appropriate support has not been established.

If you have concerns about an adult who may be the victim of harm, or is at risk of harm

Report your concerns to the Local Authority social work department or the police. You can find the details of all Local Authority Adult Support and Protection teams in the link at the bottom of this page.

Any report, including anonymous referrals, should be taken seriously by the Local Authority. It is good practice to let the adult know you are concerned, but even if they refuse consent, you must pass on your concern.

The Local Authority must make enquiries and has a number of powers to help protect an adult at risk of harm, such as:

  • A visit to interview the adult, to explain what support services may be available to them or to offer them a medical examination if appropriate
  • Requiring health, financial or other records to be produced
  • An application to court for a protection order.

Any intervention in an adult’s affairs must provide benefit to them and should restrict their freedom as little as possible. The Local Authority must consider the wishes and views of the adult at risk and efforts must be made to help them communicate their views.

Next steps

Take a look at the additional resources below.

Part of
Last Updated
02 February 2024
First Published
02 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.