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Describe harm

Please note: Information relating to factors that may contribute to an individual being more vulnerable to abuse have been moved to a separate page.

Harm is a term generally used to describe physical injury, pain and death but can also result from non-physical mistreatment such as emotional or financial abuse.

It can be the result of a responsible person (such as a care worker or family member) doing something incorrectly (e.g. not following the correct procedure when repositioning an individual cared for in bed) or not doing something that they should do (e.g. not giving an individual their medication). Harm can be deliberate or unintentional.

An individual that you work with may self-harm or have a history of self-harming. The support that you provide, including the associated risk assessments, should be documented in the individual’s care plan. This should be informed by the individual, their family/friends and professionals (such as their GP or psychologist). You may also access support from other organisations that provide specialist advice and guidance.

Accompanying Video

Video Transcript



My name is Daniel Dutton and I run the website dsdweb.co.uk which provides free help, guidance and support for people that are studying for care qualifications.

In this short video, we will be providing several definitions of ‘harm’. This is an assessment criterion for the Level 2 and Level 3 Diplomas in Adult Care as well as the Care Certificate.

But before I continue, I’d be very grateful if you could click on the thumbs-up button to Like this video and subscribe to my channel. This helps the video to be more visible on Youtube so that it can be easily found by other students.

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines harm as ‘physical or mental damage’.

The Skills for Care Workbook for Standard 10 of the Care Certificate provides a more detailed definition of harm. It states:

“Harm includes ill treatment (including sexual abuse, exploitation and forms of ill treatment which are not physical); the impairment of health (physical or mental) or development (physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural); self-harm and neglect; unlawful conduct which adversely affects a person’s property, rights or interests (for example, financial abuse).”

And, for those in Scotland, the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 defines harm as:

“harm” includes all harmful conduct and, in particular, includes—

(a) conduct which causes physical harm,

(b) conduct which causes psychological harm (for example: by causing fear, alarm or distress),

(c) unlawful conduct which appropriates or adversely affects property, rights or interests (for example: theft, fraud, embezzlement or extortion),

(d) conduct which causes self-harm,

Putting this together, harm can be described as anything that causes damage to an individual (physically or psychologically) or to their rights, interests or property.

Thank you for watching and I hope you’ve found this video useful.

If you require any additional help or want to send feedback about this video, please feel free to use the comments section below or visit my website dsdweb.co.uk. More information about this assessment criterion can be found in the link in the description.

And, if you’ve not already done so, please click the Like and Subscribe buttons below.

Bye for now.

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