Overview of research and resources on elder abuse, by Social Care Institute for Excellence

Overview of research and resources on elder abuse, by Social Care Institute for Excellence

There is a wealth of information, resources, organisations and policy available to practitioners who want to find out more about elder abuse.

Here, to complement our discussion of new research on the subject opposite, Scie summarises the latest thinking and resources on elder abuse. The issue has gained significantly more coverage in the past 10 years as changes to inspections and whistleblowing procedures have uncovered more cases of institutional and individual abuse.

Abuse is not easily defined and the relationships between involved individuals can make particular cases complex. The Department of Health No Secrets guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse offers the following aid to identifying abuse:

● physical abuse

Including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint, or inappropriate sanctions.

● sexual abuse

Including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which a vulnerable adult has not consented, or could not consent or was pressured into consenting.

● psychological abuse

Including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

● financial or material abuse

Including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

● neglect and acts of omission

Including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

● discriminatory abuse

Including racist, sexist, that based on a person’s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.


AUTHOR: Mowlam, Alice, et al
TITLE: UK study of abuse and neglect of older people: qualitative findings
REFERENCE: London, Comic Relief and Department of Health, 2007

This study presents findings of in-depth interviews with a selection of older people who have experienced abuse and mistreatment.

Full text

AUTHOR: O’Brien, Donna, Blake, Daniel, Angel, Colin
TITLE: Adult protection toolkit for domiciliary care agencies
REFERENCE: UK Homecare Association

This is designed to assist agencies and senior staff in equipping their staff with policies, procedures and knowledge when dealing with situations of suspected abuse. In light of the UK Prevalence Study into abuse of older people, Next Steps Registration and several high profile cases, this is an essential tool for all working in the sector.


AUTHOR: Pritchard, Jacki
TITLE: Identifying and working with older male victims of abuse in England
REFERENCE: Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, 19(1/2), 2007, pp.109-127.

The abuse of men is still a taboo subject, so identifying older men who have been abused in childhood or adulthood can be difficult. This paper discusses the problems in identifying older male victims by drawing on the findings of two research projects. It is argued that in general resources are not readily available to facilitate disclosure or to help men through the healing process. An example is discussed where group work and creative writing was used with an older man.

Journal home page 


● The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 introduces a new vetting and barring scheme for those who work with children and vulnerable adults. The scheme is due for introduction from autumn 2008 and will replace the POCA and POVA schemes. The scheme will cover health and social care services.

More information


● Scie Practice Guide 9: Dignity in Care

● Scie Practice guide 7: Making referrals to the POVA list

● Commission for Social Care Inspection: Safeguarding adults and the protection of vulnerable adults

No Secrets: guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse


Action on Elder Abuse  

Department of Health’s vulnerable adults’ page

 ● Help the Aged

Age Concern

● Social Care Online is the most comprehensive database of social care information. You can access it through Scie’s website

Searching for information

You can search the database Social Care Online for references, information and resources on the abuse of older people. Useful search terms include “elder abuse” and “adult protection and older people”. Other topic areas to search include protection of vulnerable adults, restraint, and dignity.

Read the full research article

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