Northumberland County Council is urging people to report incidents of abuse and neglect of older people as it lends support to this year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Staff from the Adult Services safeguarding team will be on hand on Friday 15 June at the Foundry House, Bedlington and at Northumberland County Council, County Hall in Morpeth from 10am to 2.00pm. Here they will be handing out leaflets and talking to local people about what they might do if they expect that someone might be being mistreated.
Northumberland Safeguarding Adults Board has organised the events to help raise awareness of an issue that they say is often overlooked by society.
Caron Walker, Chair of the Board said: “Sadly, elder abuse happens all over the world, regardless of class, race or geography. All partners on Northumberland’s Safeguarding Adults Board are committed to zero tolerance of adult abuse and neglect because protecting adults is a priority for us all. The Board are proud to be involved with local events supporting World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which coincides with events in Asia, Africa, North and South America and throughout Europe. I hope the events are a great success in raising awareness.”
In all societies, abuse and neglect of older persons can go unrecognised or not be acted on. Action on Elder Abuse report that only one-tenth of elder abuse is reported.
Older people were the alleged victims of abuse in over 60% of safeguarding adults concerns reported in Northumberland last year. The main types of incidents of elder abuse reported to the council were neglect, physical abuse, and an increasing number of financial abuse concerns were reported compared to 2010-11. In most recorded cases it was reported that the victim was abused in their home and from some one who they knew.
Northumberland Safeguarding Adults Board has agreed procedures for working closely with the police, NHS, Northumberland County Council, private and voluntary sectors to ensure that people are protected from abuse in the first place and when it does occur that it is investigated appropriately.
The safeguarding team carries out a variety of training programmes and produces policy documents, procedures and guidance for its member organisations, people using their services, and the public about abuse - what it is, signs and symptoms, and how to get help.
Cllr Veronica Jones, older peoples champion, and member of the Board said “Safeguarding adults means all work that enables an adult to retain independence and choice and live a life that is free from abuse or neglect. It is about preventing abuse and neglect as well as promoting good practice for responding to concerns on a multi-agency basis.”
“Relatives, carers, neighbours, health and social care professionals as well as friends of older people all have an important part to play in ensuring that the elderly are protected; together we can make a difference and address elderly abuse in Northumberland.”
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) designated 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to raise awareness of what abuse against older people is and how it can be prevented. The internationally celebrated day is supported by both the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
Cllr Ian Lindley, executive member for adult care and wellbeing added “We want to show that our society does not tolerate any kind of abuse and neglect of older residents. Whilst these events aim to raise public awareness and are important in the battle against abuse of all kinds, ultimately the challenge for us all is to not only to listen to what has been said but to believe, and act upon it straight away.
I would urge anyone who is being neglected or knows of someone who is being ill-treated to report it to the safeguarding team or the police.”
Anyone concerned about abuse of older people is encouraged to contact their local council in the first instance and ask for their safeguarding adults unit. There is also a national helpline, which is free and confidential run by Action on Elder Abuse- 0808 808 8141