Elder abuse – the postcode lottery
Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) has recently published a new report “A patchwork of Practice”. This highlights troubling statistics regarding abused adults and reports how whether concerns are investigated appears to be strongly linked to where you live.
The report shows that in 2016-2017 an average 1,000 concerns a day were reported to local authorities. Of those, fewer than 30% were converted into full enquiries, 63% of which related to people aged 65 or over.
Conversion of reported concerns into full enquiries
There is a huge variation in whether concerns are converted to full enquiries based on which council is involved; with the conversion rate being 100% in some areas and as low as 10% in others.
To a certain extent, demographics have an impact (with some areas having a higher rate of elder abuse than others) but it seems unlikely that this is the only issue and AEA raised concerns that some councils may be under-reporting or under-investigating concerns raised.
In total, AEA reports that an additional 211,750 concerns raised would have been converted into enquiries if the complainants had lived in one of the top 10 authorities.
Types of abuse
The report also highlights the variation between types of abuse (physical, psychological, sexual, financial and neglect) between the different authorities.
Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council reported that over 70% of the concerns were in relation to neglect, but in Gloucestershire and Westminster neglect accounted for fewer than 20% of concerns.
In Gloucestershire the majority of concerns were in relation to psychological (36.4%) or physical (45.5%), whereas in Westminster financial abuse was the most prevalent (34.2%).
What can be done?
Other charities such as Age UK are helping to raise awareness about the loneliness older people can feel. The more people have someone to talk to, the more likely it is that abuse will be caught.
The most important thing if you have concerns about elder abuse is to talk to someone trusted.
Some helplines are shown below but, as always, if you would like to speak to one of our team, please get in touch for confidential advice and a free initial consultation.
Action on Elder Abuse: Advice and Guidance Helpline: 080 8808 8141 (9am-5pm Monday-Friday)
Age UK Suffolk: Information and Advice Line: 01473 351234 (9am-4.30pm Monday-Friday)
Suffolk Police: Non-emergencies – 101 (24/7 advice) Emergencies – 999 (24/7 assistance)
Rebecca McCarthy is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee.