Behind Closed Doors – why do older people still experience such poor care?

Sadly, through working on a campaign like Care in Crisis at Age UK, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of older people experiencing poor levels of care at a time when they are most vulnerable. But even I was shocked at what BBC’s Panorama uncovered in their programme on care homes, Behind Closed Doors, this week.

Neglect, bullying and taunting, being ignored, rough treatment and even outright assault: this is what was found during secret filming in more than one care home. It left me feeling upset, distressed and angry. How is it that this sort of thing can still take place in 21st-century Britain?

Continue reading “Behind Closed Doors – why do older people still experience such poor care?”

Guest blog: Tackling elder abuse

This guest blog was contributed by our national partner, Age Cymru.

All older people should have the right to a life free from abuse, where dignity, respect and safety are part of the natural fabric of society.Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

2007 UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People found that around 340,000 (about 1 in 25) older people  living in the community are affected by abuse every year.

The same study found that Wales has the highest rate of elder abuse in the whole of the UK. Based on population figures, Age Cymru estimates that 39,000 older people in Wales are victims of abuse in their own homes.

It’s sobering to then consider the total number of suspected adult abuse cases reported in Wales in 2009-2010 was just 4,913. Clearly, there is much more that we should do to protect older people from abuse.

There’s a similar story across the UK, and in many ways elder abuse remains a “hidden problem” which we know often goes unreported and unchallenged.

Recently, Mary Cox wrote a blog explaining Age UK’s work to prevent the mistreatment of people in later life in England.   

Over the border, Age Cymru’s Elder Abuse project has been running in Wales for almost 6 years, working to identify ways to reduce instances of abuse and deal with it more effectively when it does occur. 

For many years the project has been exploring the case for a specific law in Wales to protect adults from abuse. In Wales, there is an opportunity to make this happen now due to the new law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales and the forthcoming Social Services (Wales) Bill.

Age Cymru has developed the Rule Out Abuse campaign, calling for increased commitment to protecting older people from abuse.

Clearer, more focussed laws, with clear duties on public bodies, including Health, Social Services and Police, to investigate and cooperate when abuse or potential abuse is reported would ensure that elder abuse is tackled with the priority it deserves.

 A new law is just one of a range of tools we need to protect older people from abuse, but it’s a critical one.

Find out more about Age Cymru’s campaign and sign the Rule Out Abuse charter

Read a blog by Age UK’s Safeguarding Advisor, Mary Cox, about elder abuse and safeguarding

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