Jun 02, 2023

Education on sexual assault extends to home care settings

Screenshot 2023-06-02 140608
OWN NSW CEO, Yumi Lee, OPAN CEO, Craig Gear and Celebrate Ageing Director, Catherine Barrett. [Source: Older Women’s Network NSW]

More resources and education opportunities are being created to bridge the knowledge gap about sexual assault in all aged care settings.

A new online training course for providers is set to launch later this month as part of the Older Persons Advocacy Group (OPAN), Celebrate Ageing and Older Women’s Network New South Wales partnership called the #ReadytoListen project with the aim to effect change from the top down in both residential aged care and home care.

Recent data has found about 58% of aged care staff didn’t believe incidents of sexual assault had an impact on the residents involved.

This statistic saw the birth of the Charter of Sexual Rights in Residential Aged Care to educate all staff and residents about what isn’t appropriate in these settings. But the most recent figures from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission suggest there are still about 43 people sexually assaulted in aged care per week.

Celebrate Ageing Founder and Director, Doctor Catherine Barrett, said the Charter needed to be extended into home care settings and some staff still lack the education to identify signs of sexual assault, understand that anyone can be sexually assaulted at any age, and how to properly intervene and report an incident.

“We’ve done some amazing work in residential aged care. Now we need to look at home-based services and also the family violence context. Aged care service providers are so powerfully placed to go into a home and get people impacted by sexual abuse information about their choices.”

Beyond the power providers hold, Dr Barrett acknowledged how important it was for families and carers to access education about sexual assault and why it may happen. To get this information out, she has teamed up with dementia advocate, Kate Swaffer, to put together the ‘In Sickness and In Health’ information booklet for carers of people living with dementia at home who are experiencing unwanted sexual contact.

The knowledge gap surrounding sexual assault in aged care, home care and family settings has sparked the creation of these information resources as people become more eager to learn and understand.

“I think there is a period of great enlightenment happening at the moment and we’re shifting from just the early adopters to now increasingly groundswell,” Dr Barrett said. 

For more information, visit the OPAN website.

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