The only family I’ve got: emerging themes for older people referred to elder abuse counselling

Presenter: Helen Rushford, Elder Abuse Prevention & Response Liaison Officer, Melbourne Health

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About the presentation

The Integrated Model of Care Project was established at Melbourne Health in 2018. In 2019, the funding for the Counselling/Advocacy component of the project, which had been managed by an external organisation, was transferred to Melbourne Health. This provided the opportunity to collect and analyse the data of older people referred to the Older Person’s Counsellor/Advocate during a 6 month period in 2019 and to identify key patterns and themes. This presentation will outline the demographic details and presenting issues and experiences of family violence for this group of older people.

As we commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on 15 June, it is timely for staff to increase their awareness of and effective response to elder abuse issues and to acknowledge the positive and important contributions of older people in our community. WEAAD was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011 in recognition that elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health, well-being, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.

In the current pandemic, all adult victim survivors of family violence are at increased risk of violence during the current outbreak of COVID-19. Older people who are more likely to be socially isolated may be even more vulnerable. It is more important than ever that workers are able to identify the risk factors and signs of elder abuse and develop effective strategies to engage older people at risk.

About the presenter

Helen Rushford is the Elder Abuse Prevention & Response Liaison Officer for the Melbourne Health Integrated Model of care for responding to elder abuse project and leads the Elder Abuse team that includes an Older Person’s Counsellor/Advocate and Older Person’s Financial Counsellor.

A key component of Helen’s position is to provide specialist clinical advice and consultancy to staff from both Melbourne Health and community organisations in the North West metropolitan area who are seeking support with elder abuse matters.

Helen is an experienced social worker who has worked in a wide range of settings including disability, acute and community health, housing, local government and child and family support services.

Further information: [email protected]

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