Jun 16, 2017

Elder Abuse: New Recommendations For Governments To Protect Older People

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. And this year, a new Australian report was released on this very subject.  

After a 15 month investigation by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), the Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response was presented.

In it was 43 different recommendations of law reform to help protect older people from abuse and protect their autonomy.

Elder abuse can come in many forms, whether it be physical, emotional, it can even be financial abuse where people take advantage of an elderly person’s finances.

ALRC’s recommendations cover abuse experienced at home, in residential care as well as barriers to financial elder abuse through banking, superannuation and wills and estates.

The report, with detailed strategies and priorities for action, is targeted at federal and state governments, requesting that they develop a new national plan to stop elder abuse.  

Approximately one third of the commission’s recommendations revolved around new reforms for residential and community aged care.

One of the recommendations proposed a new benchmark for adequate staffing levels in aged care and that there be a more extensive process in place for screening staff. Something that many advocacy groups and aged care workers have been suggesting for a long time now.  

Another recommendation that was made was to develop a new “serious incident response scheme, which would require approved providers to notify an independent oversight body of any allegations or suspicions of serious incidents and for an investigation to take place.

The ALRC have suggested that the independent oversight body should be the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

The definition of a “serious incident”, particularly in aged care against a resident is;

  • any sort of physical, sexual or financial abuse
  • inappropriate, improper, inhumane or cruel treatment
  • unexplained serious injury
  • neglect

And should it involve and incident between two aged care residents, it means;

  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse causing serious injury
  • an incident that is part of a pattern of abuse

In home care, a serious incident would include physical, sexual or financial abuse committed by a staff member against the person receiving care.

Another recommendation proposes regulation around the use of restrictive practices in residential aged care facilities stating that they should be the least restrictive and used only as a last resort, after alternative strategies have been considered, to prevent serious physical harm.

It has also been suggested that there be a new independent “senior practitioner” for aged care to provide “expert leadership on and oversight of the use of restrictive practices”, and with that providers should be required to record and report their use of restraints.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher, who was the Commissioner-in-charge of the inquiry, emphasised the importance of developing recommendations for elder care in the new report, “we have worked to balance the autonomy of older people with providing appropriate protections, respecting the choices that older persons make, but also safeguarding them from abuse”.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Banner Banner

Kind and brave: Nurse comes out of retirement to help with WA’s struggling health system

Judith Warland had it all set. After a long career in nursing, she retired two years ago. However, in seeing WA’s struggling health system, as the state braces for the expected rise in COVID patients with the February 5 border reopening, Warland decided she would return to work to help. Read More

Government’s billions no cure for problems plaguing aged care: “No marked improvement”

A recent poll reveals the public has seen little improvement in aged care despite the government’s announcement it will inject $17.7 billion into the sector. Read More

Physical restraints should not be allowed in aged care, medical expert tells royal commission

Professor Joseph Ibrahim gave an impassioned hearing at the royal commission on Thursday, delivering a damning assessment of Australia’s aged care system, and laying down his suggestions, based on decades of research, for improvements. Prof Ibrahim is a consultant specialist in geriatric medicine, who teaches and researches patient safety and aged care at the Institute of... Read More
Banner Banner