Illness, disability and health conditions

Illness, disabilities and health conditions can impact people in many ways. This can include affecting their day-to-day life, ability to work, socialise and support themselves.

People’s experience of illness and disability can vary over time, causing thier care and support needs and level of independence to change.

People may receive support from others for daily living or to help manage their condition. This support may be provided by a family member, friend or support worker. If people require a high level of support they may be visited by care givers on a daily basis or may be moved to a specialist care setting.

Vulnerability to exploitation

People with an illness, disability or health condition may be viewed as easy targets for exploitation because of their care and support needs and the impact of their condition on their ability to protect and defend themselves.

Dependence on others for support with healthcare needs or daily living can result in close and repeated contact with care givers. This can create opportunities for exploitation to take place.  If someone has been abused or exploited by a care giver they may be unwilling to speak out because of their reliance on this person to meet their care and support needs.

People may be isolated and have limited contact with friends, family or neighbours. There may be few opportunities to disclose that they have been harmed or exploited and they may not be in contact with anyone who they would trust enough to tell.

Communication difficulties, memory problems and confusion can also make it challenging for people to understand that they are being groomed or exploited, and to tell others what is happening.

Elderly people with significant care and support needs may be more vulnerable to exploitation as they are more likely to be isolated and may be viewed as easy to exploit.

People with an illness, disability or health condition can become victims of many forms of exploitation but are especially vulnerable to financial exploitation and sexual exploitation.

If someone requires support with their daily living or finances they may be financially exploited by their care giver. This could be in the form of theft or being persuaded to purchase items for the care giver. People holding Power of Attorney may also exploit their control over the person’s finances to use this money for their own purposes.

People may become victims of scams and doorstep crime, especially if they are isolated, have memory problems or are experiencing confusion. They may be less able to recognise and understand that they are being scammed, or may be easily groomed by fraudsters seeking to befriend victims in order to gain access to their money.

People who are dependent on others for healthcare needs or support with daily living are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation by those providing this care. The often isolated nature in which care is provided can create opportunities for sexual exploitation to occur. For example, a single individual may be providing care to someone in their own home, in which they live alone.