Developing Strategies for the Prevention, Detection and Management of Elder Abuse: The Irish Experience
South Dublin Higher Specialist Training Scheme, Dublin, Ireland.Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect 02/2008; 20(2):169-80. DOI: 10.1080/08946560801974679
It is only within the past two decades that elder abuse has received governmental attention in Ireland. There had been little awareness, and no structures in place to tackle this problem prior to this. Media highlighting of particular cases, and an exploratory study undertaken in 1998, prompted the setting up of a governmental working group on elder abuse. Unique to this group was the trialling of a proposed system in two pilot sites. This allowed for recommendations based on actual practice, and has lead to the adoption of a network of elder abuse caseworkers, among other recommendations.
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ABSTRACT: This qualitative study used data from eight focus groups involving 58 people aged over 65 years in both urban and rural settings across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Following training, four older people assisted in facilitation and analysis as peer researchers. Increasing lack of respect within society was experienced as abusive. The vulnerability of older people to abuse was perceived as relating to the need for help and support, where standing up for themselves might have repercussions for the person's health or safety. Emotional abusiveness was viewed as underpinning all forms of abuse, and as influencing its experienced severity. Respondents' views as to whether an action was abusive required an understanding of intent: some actions that professionals might view as abusive were regarded as acceptable if they were in the older person's best interests. Preventing abuse requires a wide-ranging approach including rebuilding respect for older people within society. Procedures to prevent elder abuse need to take into account the emotional impact of family relationships and intent, not just a description of behaviors that have occurred.
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ABSTRACT: Objective: to report the rate of referrals of elder abuse, patterns of elder abuse and outcomes of interventions related to a dedicated elder abuse service in the absence of mandatory reporting. Methods: data on all referrals were recorded at baseline by a national network of Senior Case Workers dedicated to elder abuse, with follow-up conducted at 6 months and/or case closure. All cases were entered on a central database and tracked through the system. The study design was cross-sectional at two time points. Results: of 1,889 referrals, 381 related to self-neglect. Of the remaining 1,508, 67% (n = 1,016) were women. In 40% (n = 603) of cases, there was more than one form of alleged abuse. Over 80% of cases referred related to people living at home. At review 86% (n = 1,300) cases were closed, in 101 client had died, 10% of these clients had declined an intervention. Cases are more likely to be open longer than 6 months if substantiated 36 versus 21% in the closed cases. Consultation with the police occurred in 12% (n = 170) of cases. The majority of clients (84% n = 1,237) had services offered with 74% (n = 1,085) availing of them. Monitoring, home support and counselling were the main interventions. Conclusion: the number of reported cases of abuse in Ireland indicates an under-reporting of elder abuse. The classification of almost half of the cases as inconclusive is a stimulus to further analysis and research, as well as for revision of classification and follow-up procedures. The provision of services to a wide range of referrals demonstrated a therapeutic added benefit of specialist elder abuse services. The national database on elder abuse referrals provides valuable insight into patterns of elder abuse and the nature of classification and response. The pooling of such data between European states would allow for helpful comparison in building research and services in elder abuse.
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