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Prevent abuse

Abuse is a recognized societal phenomenon.  It is everyone's responsibility to combat it using all means possible.

Prevent abuse
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Practical information

> Abuse: violence and negligence

Abuse is defined as “violence characterised by acts or omissions committed by a person that threatens the life, mental or physical integrity, and freedom or seriously threatens personal development and/or financial security”. (Council of Europe, 1987)

In a family or institution, abuse extends to all forms of violence and negligence, whether associated or not.  Violence can be mental, psychological, moral, medical or financial.  Negligence can be both active and passive.  Violating civic rights is also a form of abuse.

> What are the warning signs?

The elderly person lives alone.  They are socially isolated.  They seem distrustful, scared and show signs of Depression: appearance is neglected, loss of appetite and interest, difficulty sleeping...

They seem overly calm, apathetic.  They frequently fall, and show signs of injury or bruises that they can't explain.

> Report cases of abuse

If you are informed of a case of abuse, there are many options available today to manage it. Here is a list of possible actions you can take, and take immediately.

Contact the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)
The first thing to do in an abuse case is to talk about it, to break the silence. You can contact the RQIA, which regulates residential care and nursing homes in the UK. You can contact them by dialing 028 9051 7500.

Report elder abuse to the Social Services
Health and Social Care Trusts have workers who deal specifically with cases of elder abuse. If you have concerns about the care of an elder, you can contact your local HSC and someone will take care of the case.

Contact the Police
Some cases of abuse (such as assault, theft or fraud) are criminal in nature and thus police matters.

Questions and answers

What steps can be taken to fight abuse?Show

• Inform the public: by widely informing people about this phenomenon, we expose this scourge. It is the necessary starting point in order to fight and defeat abuse.
• Train people who come in contact with elderly people: doctors, homecare workers, workers in senior’s institutions, etc. Professionals working with the elderly are better informed and trained in order to prevent abuse.
• Improve living conditions in institutions for the elderly.
• Increase the frequency of and improve on inspections.
• Put in place structures to help families and support elderly people.

What should I do in a case of abuse?Show

It is essential that you act on all suspected cases of elder abuse.  If the above factors are present, break the silence! Contact the RQIA, the HSC or the police as soon as possible.

When does something become abuse?Show

Abuse covers multiple forms of suffering. It includes many forms of violence and negligence, associated or not. We can identify forms of violence:

• Physical
• Moral and psychological
• Medical
• Financial
• Active negligence (forced isolation…) or passive negligence (lacking help for food preparation)
• The violation of civil rights (attacks on freedoms and fundamental rights of persons)

What types of abuse are seen most?Show

Psychological and financial abuse are the most frequent, and often time associated.
Physical abuse, which is sometimes used to back up the first two, is also common.

Some forms of abuse, harder to identify, remain very harmful for the individual - psychological and verbal violence. They can bring on a state of depression, loss of appetite or even anorexia, as well as physical damage...
Surprisingly, the fight against abuse only needs the adoption of policy measures that can easily be put in place…



Active and passive negligenceShow

Authoritarianism, confinement, immobilization, withholding help for essential daily activities (no help, forget to help, abandonment...) 

Medical abuseShow

Too much or not enough medication…

Physical abuseShow

Hitting, slapping, burning, varied contusions, bruises, fractures, physical constraints (confrontations, pushing, physical touching, rape...) 

Civil abuseShow

Withholding citizen’s basic rights...

Financial abuseShow

Theft, extortion, forced signatures, anticipated inheritance, undue withdrawal of money or goods, money in exchange for un-kept promises...

Psychological abuseShow

Insults, humiliation, intimidation, disrespecting privacy, emotional blackmail, fear, threats, loss of security or affection, withholding family and friend visits, confinement, moral or sexual harassment…

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