Wilson praises awareness tackling senior abuse
Complaints about the abuse of vulnerable older people have jumped in the past six weeks, the Department of Ageing and Disability Services said yesterday.
Kim Wilson, Minister of Health, said the increase could be because of “the stellar job that section is doing in terms of raising awareness” or reflect a rise in “stresses” with the approach of Christmas.
Ms Wilson said the jump in cases was noticed “particularly in the last six weeks”.
She added: “In fact, we have ten ongoing investigations happening right now.”
Ja-Mae Smith, the acting manager of ADS, said the department’s usual rate was about 33 reports a year.
She added: “For 2016 to 2017 we were predicted to have 30 to 33 cases.”
“As of September 30, we had 28 cases. From October 9 until now, we have had 13 reports. Out of those, ten are now actively being investigated.”
Ms Smith said the case management team investigates referrals “either from members of the public or from the police”.
She added: “If there is abuse, our team gathers the initial facts and forwards them to the police to review to see if they need to proceed with a criminal prosecution.”
Abuse can range from physical and psychological to financial abuse.
Neglect is categorised as “active”, when caregivers intentionally fall short of their responsibilities, to passive, when the failure is unintentional.
Self-neglect — when a person is unable to look after their basic needs — is also investigated.
Ms Smith said: “We have a risk manual that is implemented in various helping agencies around the island — we use it as social workers to determine the level of risk.
“If intervention is required immediately, that’s normally when police get involved within 24 hours.”
She added that financial abuse “goes straight to the police fraud unit”. Both police and the hospital are involved where sexual abuse is suspected.
Ms Wilson said ADS was “in the process of putting together an informative pamphlet” to boost public awareness of the problem.
She added: “It will help raise awareness and identify the warning signs of senior abuse and the things that people can look out for — we are looking to have that launched certainly by the end of the year.”
For information or to report suspected abuse of a vulnerable senior, see online at https://www.gov.bm/senior-abuse-reporting-and-investigation, or call 292-7802.
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