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Making an adult social care referral as a professional

Safeguarding concerns should be reported in line with our decision-making framework. View the decision-making framework on the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Adults Board's policies and procedures page.

Referrals should be made to the local authority where you believe that the criteria under the Care Act 2014 have been met.

Please ensure that you have considered all criteria in reaching a decision as to whether the Safeguarding criteria (3-point test) has been met.

The safeguarding duty applies to an adult who:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs)
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • 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

If the answer to all the above 3 questions is “yes” then proceed with completing the rest of the concern form and send it to the local authority.

If you would like to report a concern please complete this online form:

If the concern is urgent, contact our Customer Service Centre on 0300 126 7000.


In most cases the adult or their advocate should give consent to the concern form being completed.

There are exceptional circumstances when the adult may not be asked to give consent because asking them may increase the risk of abuse.

Assessing the person’s capacity to consent

An assessment of a person’s capacity is time and decision specific. Therefore, they could be able to make a decision about something on one day, but not able to make a similar decision on another day.

There are four parts to a mental capacity assessment and if a person is required to make several decisions i.e. to agree to the concern form, to agree to an enquiry going ahead and then to agree with what the outcome of the enquiry was, then they may need to be assessed for each decision.

To have capacity to make a decision a person must be able to:

  1. understand the information relevant to the decision (including the reasonably foreseeable consequences of making or not making the decision)
  2. retain that information (long enough to make the decision)
  3. use or weigh up the information (as part of the decision-making process)
  4. communicate the decision (in any recognisable way) 

There are occasions when you may need to raise a concern without the persons consent, therefore the above assessment is not required for this stage of the safeguarding process, for example:

  • it is in the public interest, such as:
    • there is a risk to other adults at risk, or
    • the concern is about organisational or systemic abuse, or
    • the concern or allegation of abuse relates to the conduct of an employee or volunteer within an organisation providing services to adults at risk, or 
    • the abuse or neglect has occurred on property owned or managed by an organisation with a responsibility to provide care
  • the person lacks mental capacity to consent and a decision is made to raise a safeguarding concern in the persons “best interests” 
  • a person is subject to coercion or undue influence, to the extent that they are unable to give consent
  • it is in the adult’s vital interests (to prevent serious harm or distress or life-threatening situations)

If you are not sure whether you should raise a safeguarding concern, you should seek advice.

If you have become aware of concerns through the course of your work seek advice from the safeguarding adults lead in your organisation or a member of the local authority Safeguarding Adults Team.

Where the adult you are concerned about, their representative or advocate is not consenting to the concern form being raised, the person completing the form should clearly document the reason for the concern being raised and include their own name on the form.

If the adult at risk does not want the concern form to be completed and it is determined that the person clearly has the capacity to make such a decision, then their wishes should be met.

For further guidance, see the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Adults Board website.

Last updated 13 November 2023