“People will remember Victoria Climbie and Jasmine Beckford and others for a long time but there seems to be no collective memory of the scandals of adult abuse which started in the 1970’s,” said Anne Williams, vice president of the ADSS said at Community Care Live today.
This is despite the fact that the scale of abuse in care homes is disproportionate to the number of older residents. About 4.5 % of older people live in a care home but calls to Actions on Elder Abuse’s helpline suggest that 25% of elder abuse occurs in these care homes.
Also speaking at the protecting adults from abuse session at Community Care Live today, Daniel Blake, policy development manager at Action on Elder abuse, said “There is a crisis of abuse in our care home sector. Until the sector acknowledges the scale and size of the problem, we will never move forward.”
Currently the number reported is just the tip of the iceberg because most older people are too frightened, ashamed or embarrassed to report abuse, he said.
“The lack of data allows adult abuse to remain the poor relation to child abuse or domestic violence. Most abuse of older people is in their own homes by their own family and that is domestic violence,” he said.
“It’s domestic violence grown old, so why don’t we offer the same intervention and protection that we offer other victims of domestic violence?”
He added: “We haven’t tackled domestic abuse in a consistent way since the No Secrets guidance.”
A lack of engagement from health and police means there are “too many empty seats around the multi-agency working table,” Blake said.
Without statutory legislation underpinning this work it will not be a priority. “We can’t see domestic violence and adult protection as two separate systems.”
Anne Williams agreed. “The danger of the split of children’s and adults’ services is that we lose expertise and connections.”
Salford Council is looking at having one safeguarding unit that will bring together adult protection, child protection and domestic violence.
“We are in real danger if we start to think about them all separately,” she added.
There is strong evidence that the priority put on child protection as opposed to adult protection. Social services and police have a two-week joint training progress for child protection but it is just three days for adult protection.
“And child protection has had loads of resources put into it but no resources have been put into local authorities or their partners for adult protection,” she added.
“We still have a big problem in recognising what adult abuse is but in children’s services people have a greater understand of what constitutes abuse.”
Essential information on child protection
Essential information on domestic violence