Learning disability is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic physiological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written. The disorder can manifest itself in, for example, the ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, do mathematical calculations, etc. Even though their progress in these skills might be limited, people with learning disabilities may have average to above average intelligence (William, 1987). All the service users in the case study are said to have learning disability even though the severity of their ailments is not known.
In that learning disability is a disorder that affects people's ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain, sufferers from learning disabilities are prone to abuse, discrimination and exploitation; thus making them vulnerable.
Abuse is defined as anything that is harmful, injurious, or offensive. It is a pattern of behaviour in which physical violence and/or emotional coercion is used to gain or maintain power or control in a relationship. Abuse also includes excessive and wrongful misuse of a substance. Abuse is a violation of an individual's human and civil rights by any other person or persons. There are several major types of abuse: physical and sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse elderly abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. (Collins, 1995)
Physical Abuse includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication and undue restraint, or inappropriate sanctions. Sexual Abuse includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not or could not consent and/or was pressures into consenting. Psychological abuse includes threats of harm, abandonment, humiliations, verbal or racial abuse, isolation, withdrawal from services or supportive networks. Financial or material abuse includes theft, fraud, pressure around wills, property or inheritance, misuse or misappropriation of benefits. Neglect and acts of omission includes failure to access medical care or services, negligence in the face of risk taking, failure to give prescribed medication, poor nutrition or lack of heating.
Abuse can and may occur when a vulnerable adult is persuaded to enter into financial or sexual transactions to which they have not consented or cannot consent to. This brings me to the definition of vulnerable adult.
The law commission defined a vulnerable adult as any individual over the age of eighteen who is in or may be in need of community care service by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, who may not be able to look after him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or serious exploitation. (Trevithick, 2005).
Vulnerable adults include people with learning disabilities, mental health problems, older people and disabled people, particularly when their situation is complicated by additional factors such as: Physical frailty, Chronic Illness, Sensory Impairment, Challenging Behaviour, Social Problems, Emotional Problems, Poverty,...