Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Charity Calls For Action After UK Survey Reveals Less Than One In Ten Older People Are Supported By Adult Protection Systems

On average, less than one in ten of older people experiencing elder abuse are actually supported by the systems set up to protect them. That's the stark conclusion of an analysis, by the charity Action on Elder Abuse (AEA), of nearly one hundred Local Authority systems designed to intervene and protect adults at risk of abuse. And, in some areas, the situation is even worse, with less than 2% of estimated elderly victims receiving such support.

"This is an appalling situation," said Gary FitzGerald, Chief Executive of AEA, "made worse by the fact that Government policies fail to treat the protection of adults with the same seriousness as that of children. Or even animals."

The charity is clear that the cause of this problem rests with a Central Government failure to act, and not with the Local Authorities themselves.

"We know that, locally, people are working very hard on adult protection, continued FitzGerald, "but they do not have the resources or the tools to do the job effectively. At the end of January the Department of Health in conjunction with three other Government departments concluded a consultation on the effectiveness of these systems. Everyone - from the police to regulators to Directors of Adult Social Services - told them that legislation is needed to make the systems effective. And yet still they delay. Still they refuse to commit to what they are being told is needed. This is totally unacceptable."

The analysis of referrals made to Adult Protection systems in 91 local authorities showed a huge variance, with the most effective supporting nearly 41% of estimated victims, while others were only responding to 1.5%.

Concluded FitzGerald, "In the last few months we have witnessed serious failings in hospitals (Mid Staffordshire), domiciliary care (Panorama) and the actions of the Nursing and Midwifery Council in striking from the register the whistleblowing nurse Margaret Haywood. And yet the Government remains silent on this issue".

"Granny P (Margaret Panting) hurt as much as Baby P. Stephen Hoskin suffered as much as Victoria Climbie. How can we treat adult protection as a cheap, second class option and dismiss the pain, suffering and death of adults as less important. The Government says it has a zero tolerance of elder abuse. We need that translated into action if we are to ensure that these older people receive the protection they deserve".

Action on Elder Abuse is now writing to all politicians, calling upon them to make this a cross party issue, urging that priority be given to the protection of adults at risk of abuse, and calling for an immediate commitment to adult protection legislation.

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