Let’s talk about elder abuse

The health, safety and wellbeing of Anglicare’s clients is at the very heart of our service. This World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we take a look at how our staff ensure the welfare of the people they support.

Elder abuse is defined by the World Health Organisation as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”.

Elder abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, financial, social or spiritual, or it can result from neglect. Older people may be particularly vulnerable to abuse if they are socially isolated, which is why Anglicare was so focused on continuing to provide services to older Tasmanians when the coronavirus pandemic was at its height.

“Our goal is to support older Tasmanians to age well and safely in their homes for as long as possible,” explains General Manager Home Care Services Connie Bruckard.

We keep a close eye on our clients to make sure they have adequate nutrition, heating and clothing; that their medical needs are being met and they have opportunities to participate fully in their community.

Connie says the recruitment stage is critical to the delivery of the highest possible standards of care.

“It’s very important to us that team members’ personal values align well with Anglicare’s values of Hope, Compassion, Justice and Respect,” she said.

“Right from the interview stage, anyone seeking employment with Anglicare’s Home Care Services is asked to consider what they would do if they see even the smallest sign that something is not quite right.

“When a person joins our team, one of the first mandatory training sessions they receive is how to detect the signs of abuse, and how to follow our reporting processes,” she said.

Each year staff are required to attend a refresher training session to ensure that this issue remains at the top of their mind and they remain clear on the importance of reporting incidents so that they can be investigated.

When a family member takes advantage of an older person, it generates feelings of confusion and even shame for the victim.

Anglicare Tasmania runs a financial counselling service that is confidential, free and non-judgmental. We share former client Anna’s story below to show that there is hope (Anna is a real older Tasmanian but we have changed her name to protect her identity.)

Anna’s daughter was unable to get a car loan due to bad credit history. She asked her mother to take out a loan for a car so that her grandchildren could visit more often and they could get to school more easily.

Anna agreed, and over the next 10 years she made loan repayments that totaled around $49,000. During this time she never had use of the car herself, and struggled to make ends meet trying to service the loan.

The car subsequently broke down and was sold by Anna’s daughter. Although Anna had no idea what happened to the car and didn’t receive any money from its sale, she was still held responsible for the loan repayment.

Fortunately, Anna reached out to an Anglicare financial counsellor and he was able to support her in negotiations with the lender. Although she was unable to recover the money she had already paid in interest and late fees, she did not have to pay back the balance of the loan, which was more than $6,000.

Do you need support?

If you or someone you know may be experiencing elder abuse, you can contact the Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline on 1800 441 169. The Helpline is operated by Advocacy Tasmania on behalf of the Tasmanian Government and is staffed between 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m., from Monday to Friday.  It is a free, confidential service.

The Council of the Ageing Tasmania (COTA Tas) website is an excellent source of information and resources, and lists Elder Abuse Awareness Day activities.

Do you think a career in aged care might be for you?

Anglicare is currently recruiting additional support workers in our home care and disability service areas. Visit the Careers page of our website to find out more, and hear from our team about the work that they do.

If you’d like more information on Anglicare’s Home Care services, please contact us on 1800 466 300.

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