Adult abuse / Adult guardianship

Useful helpers in the community

If you are a Northern Health employee and you become aware of a potential case of adult abuse, neglect or self-neglect you must report this situation to your immediate supervisor and together you should develop a plan of response.

If you require further consultation, or if you have a concern about a vulnerable adult who may be abused, neglected or self-neglecting and cannot seek support or assistance on their own, please contact a NH Adult Abuse and Neglect Specialist:

If you are a member of the public and you would like to report a concern of a vulnerable adult who may be abused, neglected or self-neglecting please contact us, and we will connect you with the appropriate person.

You may also search for a local Community Response Network (CRN) with a branch in your community.

This information is provided to assist the public and also health care professionals to determine if Adult Protection Services may be required. The identity of all callers are kept confidential and their names are never disclosed.

In the case of an emergency please call 9-1-1 (or local emergency services in your community).

Getting help for a vulnerable adult

Below we have provided answers to common questions on how to assist a vulnerable adult through building awareness and community connections. The BC Association of Community Response Networks (BC CRNs) also provides more information about adult abuse and neglect.

What can be done?

If it is an emergency, call police or ambulance 9-1-1 (or local emergency services in your community).


What problems is it meant to help with?

Financial abuse

Using pension money, demanding cash, cashing cheques, using credit cards, without the adult’s free, and informed consent.


Not providing necessary care, food, and shelter to a dependent adult that leads to serious harm.

Physical abuse

Slapping, punching, shoving, locking people inside rooms, tying people to chairs, or unwanted sexual activity.

Self neglect

When adults are not able to feed themselves, keep a safe home, protect themselves from others, or get medical attention and the situation is serious enough to cause harm, AND the adult is not able to make clear decisions about the problems, the adult may be self-neglecting.

Verbal/Emotional abuse

Screaming, threatening, intimidation, humiliation, isolation, and/or punishment.


What will the authorities do?
  1. The first thing Adult Protection workers do is try to get as much information as possible from the person calling. This can be kept confidential if you wish.
  2. The worker will investigate directly if needed and see for themselves what is happening.
  3. The workers are trained to look for all possible solutions that keep the adult safe but still independent. Only if necessary do they use legal action to intervene. Many times problems arise because of illness, stress, or misinformation. Getting health problems cared for, extra helps for the family or explaining legal rights are common forms of assistance.
  4. If necessary, Adult Protection Services will ask police, the courts and other authorities to restrain an abuser, to manage finances, or to move an adult to safety.

Whom is the Adult Protection Services meant to assist?
  • Adults who cannot get help for themselves because they are being physically restrained.
  • Adults who cannot get help for themselves because they are physically handicapped.
  • Adults who cannot make decisions about the problem or getting help because they have a medical condition which interferes with thinking.

IT IS NOT INTENDED FOR - Adults who choose to live in risky situations and who understand their choices.