How can Elder Abuse be Prevented?

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may have been a victim of Elder Abuse in the past or has questions around the topic:

What is Elder Abuse? Definitions & Meanings
Who Commits Elder Abuse & Why?
What are the Signs & Symptoms of Elder Abuse?
Handling & Dealing with Elder Abuse
How to Report Elder Abuse (and Who to Report it to)
How can Elder Abuse be Prevented?
Elder Abuse Data & Statistics
Elder Abuse Helplines, Support & Further Reading

Abuse comes in many shapes & forms and can target adults of any age, however elderly adults are more vulnerable because they may struggle to protect themselves. 

Therefore it is vital to have protocols in place for the protection of the elderly. Everyone deserves to live a life free from abuse regardless of age or any disability.

This guide provides useful information about ways in which elder abuse can be prevented.

Why are the Elderly more vulnerable to abuse?

Unfortunately the elderly are more vulnerable to abuse than others as they may lack the basic skills to look after and protect themselves. 

Some elderly people lack mental capacity and have extra support and care needs, therefore it is important to ensure safeguarding measures are put in place to provide protection for them.

How does the law help prevent elder abuse?

The following is a list of legislation for the safeguarding of elderly people;

  • Care Act 2014
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
  • Health and Social Care Act 2012
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • Public Interest and Disclosure Act 1998

There is a strong legal framework in the UK for the protection of the elderly. This means whether it is a private care sector or public, policies and procedures will need to be compliant to the law. This helps individuals and organisations to have a clear understanding of the rights of vulnerable adults and their responsibility towards them, reducing the risk of abuse.

Regular staff training and reviewing of procedures will encourage individuals to understand the duty of care owed to elderly people and the protection of their rights by law.

How do care home and carer safeguards help prevent Elder Abuse?

The Care Act 2014 sets out the statutory responsibilities of care and support between health and local authorities, this includes safeguarding.

The main aim of adult safeguarding under the act is to protect an adult’s right to live safely, free from abuse and neglect.  These measures include policies and procedures setting out the framework for organisations to follow when acting upon safeguarding concerns.

Local authorities are under a duty to make enquires about suspected abuse or neglect. Safeguarding in care industries is very important in reducing the risk of abuse to vulnerable adults.

This can be encouraged by ensuring policies and procedures are reviewed on a regular basis and staff are clear about their roles and responsibilities.

What further regulations and safeguarding could do more to help?

One of the most effective ways of safeguarding would be to empower the elderly to be able to safeguard themselves through person-centred care. By encouraging and supporting individuals to make their own decisions you are increasing their self-confidence.

Similarly vulnerable adults will feel valued when they are treat with courtesy and respect. High self-esteem and confidence will help the adult to speak up if they are have concerns surrounding their care.

Person-centred care is very important as it gives the individual power to control and choose how they are cared for, reducing the risk of abuse. Person-centred care can be encouraged by ensuring adults are actively involved in their care planning and not just a recipient of care.

How do banks and financial institutes help prevent elder financial abuse?

Banks owe a duty of care to protect their customers from financial abuse and fraud, however this can be very difficult to detect without greater supervision on accounts.

Some banks will have their own policy and training will be given to staff on reporting matters of suspicious activity.

Bank staff will normally confirm transactions are made wilfully and without duress, however this may not be appropriate in situations where the elderly person is too scared to confirm otherwise or lacks mental capacity.

What can I (and wider society) do to help prevent elder abuse?

Unfortunately victims of abuse are made to suffer further because of the stigma associated with abuse, victims are made to feel that they were in some way responsible for what happened to them.

This stigma is a result of negative attitudes and misunderstandings within society. Victims are forced to deal with the trauma on their own and too scared or ashamed to talk about their experience. The local communities need to work together to end this stigma by understanding victims cannot be blamed for the abuse, it was never their fault.

Creating awareness on the likely repercussions victims have to deal with when they are unable to talk to someone will encourage people to be more supportive. This support will help victims come forward and get the help they need.

Everyone should take responsibility in protecting vulnerable adults from abuse, this shouldn’t be restricted to health and social care staff. Communities should work together in creating more awareness about this issue, helping people to understand how they can play their part in preventing abuse too. Information on what to do if you suspect elder abuse should be made available within the community and support services should be more accessible for victims.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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