Editorial comment: Adults need protecting too

New research shines a revealing light into the dark corners where elder abuse occurs.

A government-backed report suggests that more than 700,000 older people suffer abuse in their own homes or residential care. While much of this concerns verbal abuse and neglect rather than physical attack, the levels are disturbing nonetheless.

Adult protection has long been optional and underfunded. This report raises the profile of the problem and the care services minister Ivan Lewis has already intimated that the adult protection regime will be overhauled.

Adult protection should be on the same statutory footing as child protection – an issue which Action on Elder Abuse has been campaigning on and which Community Care supports as one of its five mission statement aims.

A duty should be placed on professionals to investigate allegations of adult abuse and on agencies to co-operate in adult abuse work. But, tackling the issue goes beyond legislation. Resource is also a massive issue. More training is needed on identifying and addressing elder abuse, and more research.

No Secrets guidance on multi-agency working also needs to be strengthened, with partner organisations such as the police and NHS giving it more priority. And we need better monitoring of adult deaths.

Lewis’s predecessor, Liam Byrne, also expressed support for improved adult protection. Let’s hope this evidence helps translate words into actions.

Further information
Learn about elder abuse best practice at Community Care’s conference The Realities of Elder Abuse, 12 July, London: 

Contact the author
 Mike Broad

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