The first phase of the Elder Abuse Prevention Strategy (Office for Senior Victorians) has been completed. This involved raising community awareness of Elder Abuse. A Project Officer employed on behalf of the four Hume Region PCPs organized awareness sessions for community members. Some sessions used the 'World Cafι' approach while a number of others provided advice via Senior Rights Victoria personnel.
The second phase of the strategy is to promote the State-wide interagency service protocols and practice guidelines utilizing local agency networks. Some agencies have already begun this process of reviewing their current policies around Elder Abuse while some local partnerships have seen a presentation about the project (Alpine, Benalla and Wangaratta).
Agencies are encouraged to use these documents and go through a process of auditing current policies to see if they adhere. Discussions at our local partnerships need to occur to assist in ensuring we have a system that identifies and assists people at risk of or experiencing Elder Abuse.
The relevant documents are available below. A discussion around how to progress this strategy will occur over the next 2 months at each of our four local partnerships. Agencies are encouraged to attend and participate in this strategy.
• The examples and information below is taken from the 'With Respect to Age 2009' resource and is an abbreviated version. Please refer to Chapter 3 - Service Response Framework on pages 19 - 38
EXAMPLE 7: EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Urgent action is required in an emergency. This is defined as a situation that poses an immediate threat to human life or a serious risk of physical harm or serious damage to property. The appropriate emergency service (ambulance, police or fire) must be called without delay. Depending on the type and context of abuse, it may be useful to talk through the idea of planning an emergency response with the older person, should it ever need to be activated.
What happens to an older person when there is an emergency response?
In an emergency response, an older person should be involved in making decisions about their life as much as possible. However, if a worker assesses that an older person is in imminent danger of harm or death, it may be necessary to arrange:
Support (for example, ambulance services)
Medical treatment for an older person or carer (for example, referral to local doctor or hospital emergency department)
Emergency accommodation for an older person or carer (for example, referral to supported housing services in the region, a women's refuge or other temporary housing)
Police involvement, which may be required for the safety of the worker as well as an older person
An emergency application to VCAT (if the appointment of a temporary guardian is necessary, for instance, the Public Advocate) or a temporary administrator (for instance, State Trustees Limited) to protect an incompetent older person or their property and assets
Other matters sensitive to cultural considerations, including religious beliefs, which ideally should be known prior to any emergency. (See page 27 - With Respect to Age 2009)
EXAMPLE 2: IDENTIFY THE INSTANCE OF ABUSE
A worker should determine the different possible types of abuse through sensitive questioning of an older person and the older person's family and friends. This should be done with the permission of the older person, to ascertain what signs or symptoms of abuse have been observed or suspected, their severity and frequency.
When abuse is suspected what should I do?
Discuss your concerns with your supervisor.
Vital considerations when addressing abuse include how suspicion is managed, who is spoken to and when.
Ensure that actions do not cause more harm, and do not undermine the rights of an older person or their carer.
Considering some basic questions and issues relating to abuse can assist with needs identification
Any safety concerns for staff should be addressed and managed (See page 20 - With Respect to Age 2009)
What about different values and cultural difference? As with all ages, an older person will have distinctive family values and differences which should be respected, including cultural nuances in communication.
It is important to understand the meaning or intention of a verbal or non-verbal behaviour in the context of a person's culture, experience and intention. Friends or family members should not be used as interpreters.
How do I ask an older person about possible abuse? Be direct and non-judgmental. Asking an older person to describe, in a general way, how things are at home and how they spend their day, for example:
'How are things going at home?'
'How do you spend your days?'
'How do you feel about the amount of help you get at home?'
'How do you feel your (husband/wife/daughter/son/other carer) is managing?'
'How are you managing financially?'
Listen to the older person's story, acknowledging what they have said. Be empathetic, non-judgmental and non-blaming (See page 20 - With Respect to Age 2009)
EXAMPLE10: ASSESSING RISK
Managing risk involves the systematic application of management policies, procedures and practices to the tasks of communicating, establishing the context, identifying, analysing, evaluating, treating, monitoring and reviewing risk.
More information on:
What does assessing risk involve?
Additional support, information and tools on risk assessment and management
(See page 30 - With Respect to Age 2009)
The diagram as featured on page 48 of 'With Respect to Age 2009' is available for download below. This diagram sheds light on the Victorian Interagency Response Framework for Elder Abuse Prevention.