The Welsh Government must introduce new legislation to force public authorities to investigate allegations or suspicions of elder abuse.
That’s according to Age Cymru, which is today (14 November) launching its major ‘Rule Out Abuse’ campaign.
Victoria Lloyd, Age Cymru’s Director of Influencing and Programme Development explains:
“There is no current legal obligation on public authorities – such as local authorities, local health boards and the police - to investigate when there are concerns that an adult or vulnerable person is at risk or being abused.
"We are seriously concerned that this lack of legal obligation makes it difficult for local authorities, as the lead agency in adult protection, to gather information and receive cooperation from all parties involved, which can result in unnecessary delays in protecting victims and tackling abuse.
“With an estimated 39,000 older people in Wales suffering elder abuse in their own homes action is desperately needed.
“This is why Age Cymru feels that introducing a legal obligation to investigate suspected cases of abuse would be a significant step forward in ruling out elder abuse in Wales once and for all.”
‘Rule Out Abuse’ has been developed as a result of research carried out by Age Cymru’s Elder Abuse Project and consultations with adult protection experts.
There is a professional consensus that stronger laws on elder abuse would help to protect older people in Wales from abuse, as Martin Semple Associate Director (Professional Practice) RCN Wales, explains:
“The Royal College of Nursing in Wales welcomes this campaign to highlight abuse against vulnerable adults.
“It also welcomes the opportunity to create new legislation which will clarify guidance for staff who care for and work with vulnerable adults.”
Elder abuse takes many forms including physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
It can happen anywhere – in people’s homes, in care homes, hospitals, day centres and other residential settings and communities. Adult protection legislation introduced in Wales would need to cover all of these settings.
Most elder abuse is carried out by people who have are in a position of trust with the victim.
22% of people in Wales have reported coming across a situation where they judged that an older person may be suffering abuse, mistreatment or neglect. (1)
Most adult abuse referrals involve people aged 65 and over and 69 per cent of this group are women. (2)