World Elder Abuse Day – Thinking it? Report it
In February 2016, three people were convicted of abusing a vulnerable woman in a care home in Essex.
The 84-year-old victim, who had dementia, cancer and diabetes, was slapped repeatedly, wrapped on the knuckles with a hairbrush, and taunted.
Who were the perpetrators of the abuse? People paid to ‘care’ for her and keep her safe.
They were only stopped when the home was investigated by the BBC’s Panorama programme and their actions caught on camera.
The national charity Action on Elder Abuse estimates that 500,000 older people are abused every year, often by someone they know.
Today is World Elder Abuse Day – a United Nations event that seeks to raise awareness of this issue globally and encourage policy makers to promote their work and share good practice.
But similarly to cases of safeguarding involving children, the responsibility for tackling this problem is wider.
The case I referred to came only to light because someone was prepared to speak out. Admittedly, they made the report to a journalist, but doesn’t that raise the question ‘who do you tell if you’re worried about the safety of an older person?’
Today in Somerset, we are launching the third part of a campaign called ‘Thinking it, Report it’.
The campaign’s main objective is to raise awareness about the abuse of vulnerable people and encourage people who have concerns about safeguarding, which includes abuse, neglect and self-neglect, to report them.
The campaign was commissioned by Somerset’s Safeguarding Adults’ Board (SSAB), who work in partnership to tackle these issues. They are multi-agency and include statutory bodies such as the police, county council, health service, and voluntary organisations. The Care Act 2014 made it law for all areas to have such a board in place.
We wanted to use the international day to do two things. Firstly, we’ve launched a short animated film that describes the types of abuse that vulnerable people are victim too. By using social media to promote the film we hope to take it to a new audience, and begin conversations about it.
Secondly, we’ve asked people to sign a pledge, which says they’ll report incidents if they become aware of them. In psychology, where people make promises in this way, they feel a greater sense of commitment. It’s that sense of commitment that heightens their awareness around an issue, and means they are more likely to act.
By collecting pledges, the SSAB will build up a bank of advocates and supporters, who they can communicate with regularly and help to build community resilience around this challenge.
You can see our Thinking it? Report it film here.