Mediation may be part of new bill

    Mediation and conflict resolution may become part of the new
    vulnerable adults bill proposed by the Scottish executive last week
    (news, page 7, 24 June).

    Speaking at a conference on vulnerable adults last week, deputy
    minister for justice Hugh Henry confirmed that a bill was to be
    scheduled into the executive’s legislative timetable.

    He said it could include measures for mediation in situations where
    older people cared for at home suffered abuse “because of the
    stresses of caring and being cared for”.

    It could also cover individuals and situations not covered by the
    Mental Health Care and Treatment Act 2003 or Adults with Incapacity
    Act 2000. These include young children in transition from
    children’s to adult services who are vulnerable to alcohol and drug
    dependency, people with learning difficulties and those who do not
    have a mental disorder or lack capacity but are vulnerable
    nonetheless.

    Ann Ferguson, elder abuse project manager for Age Concern Scotland,
    said this was the first time there had been recognition that a
    person could be vulnerable to abuse even if they did not lack
    mental capacity.

    “For a person who is dependent on others for care, shelter and
    financial management or who, because of life circumstances, is
    unable to exercise their rights, such legislation would provide
    dignity and respect,” she said.

    In the Scottish Borders, where the abuse of four people with
    learning difficulties over a 30-year period led to the calls for a
    vulnerable adults’ bill, the council has drawn up plans for a
    dedicated adult protection and review unit.

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