What can you do if you think an adult is abused, neglected or self-neglected and they cannot get help on their own?
Adults in BC have the right to make their own decisions, including decisions others might think are dangerous or unwise, as long as the adult is mentally capable and the decision does not harm others . This includes a decision to remain in an abusive relationship, but only if the adult is mentally capable and understands the decision they are making.
There is no legal requirement to report adult abuse in BC. However, as a concerned citizen you may wish to report that you have noticed that someone is in difficulty. This is even more true in situations where an adult cannot seek help on their own because of a physical disability, restraint, or an illness, disease or other condition (such as a dementia, brain injury or stroke) that affects their ability to make decisions.
There are many community agencies such as victim services, seniors centres, transitions houses and so on that can assist in certain circumstances. In addition, for adults who may not be able to seek help on their own, designated agencies have a mandate to respond. The designated agencies in BC are the 5 regional health authorities for many adults and Community Living BC for adults who have a developmental disability.
For numbers to call in your community, click here. Communities are listed in alphabetic order. If you look at the numbers for your community and don't know which one(s) to call, click here.
In an emergency…
If the situation is an emergency and someone's safety or life is at risk you can call the police emergency number for your community.
If it is not an emergency but there is still reason for concern…
If there is a bit of time to take action, you can do one or more of the following:
- Talk to the adult if you feel comfortable doing so to find out if they need assistance and if there's someone you can contact for them.
- Phone one of the Community Numbers in your community.
- Phone one of the Designated Agency Numbers for your community if you have any doubt about whether the adult can seek help on their own. Under Part 3 of the Adult Guardianship Act, designated agencies must look into reports of adult abuse or neglect they receive. See Protecting Adults from Abuse and Neglect for more information about the role of designated agencies
- For information on the Public Guardian and Trustee's role in helping an adult get support and receiving reports of possible financial abuse or neglect, visit the Services to Adults Assessment and Investigations page.
- Phone VictimLINK 1.800.563.0808 (toll-free), 24 hour-a-day, seven day-a-week support and referral service.
- Phone the Senior Abuse Information Line (SAIL) operated by the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support at 604-437-1940 or at 1-866-437-1940 (toll free), available from 8am-8pm daily (excluding holidays).