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By Debbie le Quesne

Safeguarding: A need to open doors

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Action on Elder Abuse is campaigning for sweeping changes in the Care Bill – with safeguarding issues grabbing the headlines.

The pressure group is also defining a course of action rank and file care sector workers can take to help place existing infrastructure of adult protection onto a statutory basis.

In 2007, following publication of the Prevalence Study into the extent of elder abuse within the community, the Government committed to a refresh of the No Secrets guidance on safeguarding vulnerable adults, with particular reference to the legislation underpinning adult protection policy. This review was finally concluded in 2009. A large number of issues were identified by that review, the majority of which are not addressed by the current Care Bill.

Simply, AEA is saying the current clauses are not stiff enough to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

So what’s AEA looking to achieve?

Powers to stop abusers imprisoning victims in their own homes.

Some 40 per cent of referrals are regarding victims in their own homes. The law needs to allow, through a court process, entry into the homes of potential victims. All too often that access is dependent upon the co-operation of the abuser.

A duty on agencies to notify the Local Authority if they believe an adult may be at risk of abuse. There is a need to underline the responsibility of all agencies to report if they have reasonable belief that an adult is at risk.

Adequate Funding:

The greatest number of referrals to adult safeguarding is older people and, referrals are increasing year on year by at least 11 per cent. At the same time local authorities are making significant cuts in services, with a significant proportion affecting older people’s services. Funding limitations must not dictate whether an abused adult receives intervention.

There must be a minimum expectation of what we will collectively consider financially acceptable to invest in these activities, and this must be reflected in our financial priorities.

Clearly, given the gravitas of AEA and its robust response, something is wrong. Our most vulnerable it appears are still vulnerable.

What can you do?

  • Write to peers indicating your support for Baroness Greengross’ amendments. She is supporting the AEA proposed amendments.
  • Encourage others to get involved
  • If you work in this area, send examples to the AEA enquiries@elderabuse.org.uk of where a power of access would have been necessary

Already on deck pushing for powers of access are Mencap, the College of Social Work, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and Age UK.

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