Elder abuse and safeguarding

This guest blog was contributed by Mary Cox, Safeguarding Advisor in Age UK’s Service Development team.

In England there is no legal definition of elder abuse and no specific legislation for protecting vulnerable people in later life from abuse. Yet not a week goes by without our staff and volunteers encountering situations where a person’s human or civil rights having been violated by another person. This is why safeguarding is central to Age UK’s duty of care towards all people in later life.

Safeguarding encompasses prevention, empowerment, protection and justice. It is a process that allows people to live with as much independence as possible while maintaining their fundamental human right to live a life free from abuse and neglect.

Photo: Rosie O’Beirne

Our commitment to preventing the mistreatment of people in later life includes promoting awareness of seven types of abuse: emotional, financial, physical, sexual, discriminatory, institutional and neglect. But in practice it is rare to find one type of abuse occurring in isolation. Often, situations involve ‘multiple abuse’ where two or more types of abuse are occurring simultaneously.

Understanding how and why people abuse, whether it is deliberate or unintentional, is central to our work. Also, being aware of the barriers that people face in sharing their concerns about the way they are treated by relatives, friends or ‘professional’ personnel is essential in responding effectively to our clients’ needs. We have found that there is a strong correlation between providing training and support to staff and volunteers, and an increase in the number of abuse cases we have identified.

Find out more about elder abuse and safeguarding

6 thoughts on “Elder abuse and safeguarding”

  1. I know that abuse of the elderly does take place. I am one of the elderly now, luckily I do not need help. I worked for agency help for many years, Was often upset by what I saw, any of my comments would have been ignored. Also some childrens homes are bad, but they are better than they used to be

  2. Abuse comes in a great many forms. The kind shown on the recent Panorama programme, and also more subtle patronising and treating older people without respect – grey hair does not mean no brain, and slower does not mean stupid…I am so glad people are talking about all the different aspects now, and hope that this brings all this to the forefront and keeps it there… Old Age is unavoidable – but many people choose to forget that!

  3. My late father and now 83 year-old disabled mother are the victims of sustained and systematic abuse by corrupt socila workers and police officers. Despite the fact there have been questions in Parliament about this case, nobody in authority is prepared to do anything to stop it. Please see:
    Age UK’s York office is participating in this abuse, by its head office do not want to act.
    For more about this case, please googe:
    “The Abuse of Grandma B”

  4. I think elder abuse is pretty widespread. The great problem is with congnitive assessments, often done by Councils. For, one, example a person with no short term memory, say for longer than a minute, or two, is judged via cognitive asessement to be capable of managing his/her own bank accounts. In the case the person concerned , does not even know that she has a bank account. Let alone what is in it. Yet, there are certain specific tasks, such as running and account, which rely heavily upon having a memory, because memory acts as a safeguard to ensure that their account is being run correctly. Thus, if you cannot even remember that you have a bank account, you have know way of knowing if it is being misused. In this particular case the Public Guardians refused to take over her accounts because she had passed a Council set cognitive test, which apparently gave scant attention to her lack of memory, and how this would affect her ability to run her own financial affairs. In consequence she gave her accounts to somebody she had only known for about three weeks, with disasterous results…………..

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