Stopping the abuse of older people

Thousands of older people in Wales experience abuse – a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, which causes harm or distress – and crimes committed against older people are under-reported. The types of abuse against older people may include physical abuse; domestic violence; sexual abuse; psychological or emotional abuse; financial or material abuse; organisational or institutional abuse; neglect or acts of omission; and coercive control.

Whilst there is a growing understanding of the scale and nature of abuse and crimes against older people, there is still a lack of meaningful data about the levels of abuse in Wales, and awareness of these issues is still far too low across our public services and society in general.

I will work to stop this abuse by increasing awareness across society, improve preventative actions across public bodies and secure access to justice for those who are or at risk of being abused and help them to feel safe.

The Commissioner will take action to:

  • Increase the awareness of the abuse of older people amongst professionals and across wider society
  • Improve the access to support services for older people at risk of or experiencing abuse
  • Enable more older people who experience abuse to access legal justice
  • Prevent incidences of abuse of older people

Work during 2019-20

Research into police and CPS decision-making relating to safeguarding investigations

Data relating to crime and the criminal justice system demonstrates that prosecution and conviction rates for crimes against older people are disproportionately low when compared with the population as a whole, particularly in cases relating to safeguarding, abuse and neglect in care homes and hospitals.

The Commissioner will undertake research, working with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to examine the ways in which decision-making impacts upon investigations relating to safeguarding and subsequent access to justice for older people. By reviewing data and outcomes relating to over 400 safeguarding cases throughout Wales, the Commissioner aims to identify potential ways in which safeguarding investigations and training could be enhanced and whether existing legislation could be improved.

Understanding what motivates individuals to abuse and neglect older people

Understanding what motivates individuals to abuse or neglect older people is an essential part of identifying the ways in which such acts could be prevented.

The Commissioner will host a series of roundtable events that will bring together key organisations and individuals – including the police, safeguarding teams, health boards, third sector organisations and other experts – to explore the motivators behind abuse and neglect and consider how these could be tackled. The event will also be used to identify and share good practice related to preventing abuse and neglect that could be rolled out more widely to safeguard and protect older people.  

Safeguarding training for professionals

It is essential that professionals working across health, social care and other key public services are able to recognise the signs of abuse and understand the support available to protect and safeguard older people who have experienced abuse.

The Commissioner will deliver training to professionals to grow their knowledge and understanding of the abuse that is faced by older people, covering a range of topics, including the scale and nature of abuse, the links between ageism and abuse, older people’s rights and the services available that can provide help and support.

Alongside delivering this training, the Commissioner will also work with public services to develop a training module that will enable them to deliver in-house training on preventing abuse to their staff, to significantly increase the number of professionals who have the opportunity to complete training of this kind.

Identifying and mapping support services

Whilst there are many services available throughout Wales for people who experience abuse, older people often find it difficult to know where to go to access the help and support they need.

The Commissioner will identify and map the services available to support older people who have experienced (or are experiencing) abuse and develop a set of resources to ensure they can easily find information about the support services in their area so they can access the help they need to be safe and protected.