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Sunday 27th May 2018

Vulnerable need protection

16th March 2006

17032006_old_hands.jpgA report produced by the charity Action on Elder Abuse concludes that vulnerable adults need legislation to guard them from abuse, in line with children and domestic violence victims. Vulnerable adults include the elderly and people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

In this latest research the charity found of 639 abuse cases in nine English local authorities over six months, more than half involved the elderly, and two-thirds involved women. Just over 200 of the 639 cases related to abuse which had occurred in a person's own home, compared to 188 in care homes.

In 116 cases, the person carrying out the abuse - usually physical in nature - was working in an institution, such as a nursing home or hospital. In the cases of the people who were abused at home, 65 involved a paid care worker, with abuse by family members other than a partner or carer making up the next largest group. It also found that Thirty-four cases involved the main family carer. Of all 639 cases referred for investigation by local authorities, only five resulted in a criminal prosecution.

Action on Elder Abuse is now calling on the government to give abuse of vulnerable adults the same status as that of child protection and domestic violence. It wants national data collection introduced; reporting requirements where people are referred for protection measures and performance measures so that the work agencies carry out can be assessed against standards.

Mr Blake, the Reports author, said that, without legislation, authorities and agencies were not compelled to put measures in place which would protect vulnerable adults.

Care Services Minister Liam Byrne said that the results of the project were shocking. Too many of vulnerable and older people are being subjected to attacks or are harmed as a result of neglect, and too few people were being brought to justice for it.

He said the government are working on a range of measures to tackle abuse of vulnerable adults. It plans a committee of "dignity guardians" - agencies and charities to advise on how best to protect the dignity of vulnerable people. There will also be a centralised vetting and barring system, increased spot checks of care homes and registration of care workers.


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