A report from the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has highlighted the need for more services and support tailored to meet the needs of older people who are experiencing or at risk of abuse to ensure they can access the help and support they need to keep them safe or leave abusive relationships.
The report also identifies a number of issues that can prevent older people from accessing services and support, including a lack of awareness amongst some policy-makers and practitioners about the specific ways that older people may experience abuse, and the kinds of support that would have the most beneficial impact.
In addition, a lack of accurate and comprehensive data relating to older people’s experiences of abuse creates a risk that insufficient resources will be allocated to provide the right kinds of help and support.
As part of the research on which the report is based, a comprehensive mapping exercise was undertaken to identify the availability and types of abuse support services being delivered in Wales.
In addition, the research team engaged with stakeholders throughout Wales, including survivors of abuse, to hear directly from them about the realities of accessing services, examples of good practice, and the issues, challenges and barriers that can impact upon older people and prevent them from getting the support they need.
The report includes a series of recommendations for change across a number of key areas to improve the ways services are designed and delivered through better engagement with older people; raise awareness and understanding of older people’s experiences so that services are more responsive to their needs, including training for staff; and improve data collection to provide a full picture of the scale and impact of the abuse of older people.
Alongside the launch of the report, the Commissioner is bringing together around 200 professionals working in a variety of roles across the public and third sectors, as well as older people, for an online conference to explore the findings of the report and determine the most effective ways to take forward the action the Commissioner is calling for.
The Commissioner has also shared her findings with the Welsh Government and other key organisations, and will use the evidence she has captured to influence the development of the upcoming National Plan to Prevent Abuse, of older people and to support the delivery of change and improvements at a local level.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“As highlighted in my report, older people are at particular risk of experiencing abuse, which can have a devastating impact on their lives, so it is crucial that the right services and support are in place to protect them.
“However, the evidence I have gathered shows that whilst some form of support is available throughout Wales, services are often not tailored to meet the needs of older people and there are a number of barriers that can prevent them from accessing help and support.
“Action is needed to close the gaps in service delivery I have identified and tackle these barriers, and it is encouraging that older people and the professionals who work with them across our public and third sectors will be joining me on 15 June – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – to explore the most effective and practical ways to deliver the change needed.
“I will also use the evidence in my report to influence the Welsh Government’s National Plan to Prevent Abuse of older people, which is due to be published later this year, to ensure that the action proposed reflects the issues I have highlighted to ensure that older people experiencing or at risk of abuse can get the help and support they need."
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