Protecting Vulnerable Adults

Continuing Care

Protecting Vulnerable Adults

Adult Protection Services

In Nova Scotia, Adult Protection Services are governed by the Adult Protection Act. This legislation, along with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guides all aspects of Adult Protection Service delivery.

Related Documents:


Who needs protection?

Within Continuing Care, people who are 16 years of age and older, and are at risk of harming themselves or are being harmed by others because of a mental or physical condition, are eligible for Adult Protection Services. Adult Protection staff have the authority to act based on the following:

  • The person is in immediate and significant danger, and does not understand or is unaware of the danger he/she may be in.
  • The person does not have the physical ability to get him/herself out of the dangerous situation.
  • The person is unable to protect him/herself because of a physical or mental condition.

If I think an adult needs Adult Protect Services, should I report the case?

Yes. Regardless of how you learned of a suspected case of adult neglect and/or abuse, under the law, you must report it to the Department of Health and Wellness. Nothing more will be required of you other than the information you provide, and no action will be taken against you when you call, unless you provide information with malicious intent or without reason and probable cause.

How do I report a suspected case of adult neglect or abuse?

If you know of an adult in need of protection, you must immediately report it by calling 1-800-225-7225.

Please leave your name and phone number. A staff member will contact you to discuss the case.

If you feel the person’s life is in danger, please call 911 immediately.

What happens when I report a suspected case of neglect or abuse?

The case will be assigned to an Adult Protection Worker who will follow up on your information. If the Adult Protection Worker determines there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe the person is in need of protection, he/she will complete an assessment.

Based on the assessment, a care plan to mitigate the risks to the individual, which may include a referral for services in the home or placement in a long-term care facility, will be established.

What about financial abuse?

Amendments to the Adult Protection Act will provide the authority for the Adult Protection Workers, Continuing Care Branch, Department of Health and Wellness to investigate alleged cases of financial abuse of seniors over the age of 65 who lack the mental capacity to protect themselves from financial abuse.

In the months ahead, the Department of Health and Wellness will be working with the Public Trustee, Department of Seniors, Department of Justice and the Department of Community Services to develop the program and implementation plan for the investigation of financial abuse

Who should I contact until the change in law takes effect?

You should call your local police or the toll free Seniors Abuse Line at 1-877-833-3377.

There are many seniors groups, law enforcement agencies, and provincial departments that are proactively working to protect seniors from financial abuse.

Examples of adults who may be in need of protection:

  • Mentally challenged adults who require care and support in areas of daily living, who are left alone, or whose needs are not being met.
  • Adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease who do not appear to be managing their daily living needs, such as cooking, bathing, dressing, medication management, and who do not have support to assist with meeting their needs.
  • Adults living in environments that have unsanitary conditions, excessive hoarding, blocked exits, no running water or heat, no food, and who may not understand the risks to living in such an environment.