“No older person should be subjected to abuse neglect or exploitation. Abuse is wrong and by working together, we can stop it.”
That was the message from Kevin Keenan, Chair of The Northern Ireland Adult Safeguarding Partnership (NIASP), at a breakfast briefing held on Monday 16 June to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day aims to focus global attention on the problem of the physical, emotional and financial abuse of older people.
Abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation of older people is one of the biggest issues facing senior citizens around the world. World Health Organisation data suggests that 4 – 6% of elderly people suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported.
NIASP’s Strategic Plan sets out the development of adult safeguarding services over the next four years and participants at the event were briefed on some of the work being done to protect older people from abuse. Examples include the introduction of a Peer Educator Programme which trains older people and people with disabilities to help each other identify and avoid abusive situations and Family Group Conferencing which gives people greater control over what is happening to them and how abuse is tackled.
Sources of support for older people and their carers were highlighted including a dedicated phone number in each Health and Social Care Trust through which people can report suspected abuse.
Kevin Keenan, Chair of NIASP said:
“Research in Northern Ireland suggests that 2% of our population of people over the age of 65 will experience some form of abuse, neglect or exploitation every year.¹ Very often that abuse takes place in secret, behind closed doors or in situations where the abuser thinks they can get away with it because the older person is too afraid to tell anyone or has difficulty remembering what has happened to them.
“Last year in Northern Ireland, 3023 older people were referred to Health and Social Care Trusts because there was a concern that they were being subjected to some form of abuse. Social services and the police were able to work together to ensure that all these older people were protected from further harm but we know that many more vulnerable older people are still being subjected to varying forms of abuse, without ever coming to our attention.
“It is vital that older people and their families or carers know how to recognise that they are being neglected or exploited and how to access help and support.”
No older person should be subjected to abuse neglect or exploitation. Abuse is wrong and by working together, we can stop it.”
¹ The UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People Prevalence Survey Report (June 2007)