Not necessarily, as the definition can vary in different settings and nations.

For example, the Care Act 2014, which covers England, defines the person who should be subject of a safeguarding enquiry as an adult who:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and;
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

In Wales, the Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014, describes an “adult at risk” an adult who

  • is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect,
  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs), and
  • as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

While in Scotland, the Adult Support and Protection Act 2007, describes “Adults at risk” as adults who

  • are unable to safeguard their own well-being, property, rights or other interests,
  • are at risk of harm, and
  • because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than adults who are not so affected.

Northern Ireland has no specific legislation, but in policies describe an 'adult in need of protection' as a person aged 18 or over, whose exposure to harm through abuse, exploitation or neglect may be increased by their:

  • Personal Circumstances AND/OR Life Circumstances AND Who is unable to protect their own well-being, property, assets, rights or other interests; AND Where the action or inaction of another person or persons is causing, or is likely to cause him/her to be harmed

However a person is defined, if you have concerns you should always raise them. It is important to remember that the person does NOT have to be receiving statutory care support to be considered vulnerable. They could be purchasing their own support or may not have yet been assessed for care needs.