Thursday, April 12, 2012

Myths around elder abuse, complaints about LTC

As long as we allow seniors to be victims, they will identify themselves as victims, and act the part. No, let me rephrase this. In my experience as a teacher, I found many children who chose to be identified as victims. It was their persona. It was who they were.
I have no reason to believe that these children will grow up to see themselves as powerful people, either. They call themselves victims of the system.
Preventing victimization through government support
The training and the work I did as a Victim Services Volunteer taught me that if we make a phone call for a client, they will not find the power from reporting someone.

Typical Case Study
I have a client whose son phones for money. She is my age (55+). He is the age of my adult children. Still, he phones for money. Long distance. When her disability cheque comes in, or a tax refund, she sends him some money. She thinks it is wrong, but is afraid to shut the door on him. It is the only time he calls her.
I have counselled her several times over the course of my volunteer work with her. I have suggested that she use broken record:
"I cannot spare any money. You need to find a job and support yourself." ||: repeat :||

She finds many excuses to send him her money. Perhaps he HAS run our of food; perhaps he does need gas money, some suspect drugs, and she sends it to him. She suspects it is not the case, but doesn't want to take the chance. Her brother-in-law tells her to change her phone number. This isn't a choice she wants to make. It is my belief that this is self-neglect more than abuse. It is fraud, in that this adult child is begging for money on false pretenses.

Financial Abuse
Also mental health issues
Most seniors who report financial abuse, those who make the news, are victims of fraud by family or friends. Banks are now trained to spot those who are victims, and they must watch out for these scams. The typical grandmother/grandfather fraud, whereby a young man phones pretending to be a grandson needing bail, is typical. Even those filling the money order for these seniors know to question it for the senior. This is preventable.

If a senior cannot help themselves, it is my belief that they suffer mental health issues, or dementia, and are not making wise choices. The full weight of the law must come down on them.

Physical, Emotional or Sexual Abuse
Most seniors who report experienced physical abuse are abused by people they know. Loved ones and professionals must learn to recognize the signs and report. (Recognizing Older Adult Abuse

What does the data say?
 It depends upon who you talk to and in which country.
Estimates of the frequency of elder abuse range from 2% to 10% based on various sampling, survey methods, and case definitions.
(Lachs, Mark S., and Karl Pillemer. October 2004. “Elder Abuse,” The Lancet, Vol. 364: 1192-1263.)
We cannot use US studies to compare and extrapolate it to Canadian data. The US healthcare system is far different than Canada's. We have a much more rigorous system, with many people working with clients, communicating with one another, including family members (aside from the restrictions they believe about privacy laws (FIPPA, PHIPA, which require reporting is there is a safety issue). Those in private homes, retirement homes or LTC, have reporting systems. We have a system that runs off of taxpayer dollars, rather the the US system of private insurance.

Ontario is home to 1.5 million seniors and research indicates that currently four to ten percent (60,000-150,000) of them have experienced or are experiencing abuse of some kind.
Show me the data.

News Report
Launch of New Province Wide Help Line Provides Safety Resource for Seniors
April 13, 2009, Toronto – The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA) is proud to announce the launch of a new province-wide hotline to assist at-risk seniors.  The hotline will provide assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 150 languages.  In June 2008, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario, awarded ONPEA a three-year, $415,700 grant to help with the set-up of the hotline. That is $138,567 per year.

The hotline is now set up. In Canada, ONPEA runs this program on $75,000 per year. So the news says. They receive 13,000 calls per year. For 5.8 calls a day, we could put this money to much better use.

My retired teachers' group sent $10,000 to cover the shortfall in their budget, previously paid for by an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant. This is money collected from retirees, without any accounting for the donation. I would like to see a financial report, as well as documentation and the nature of the calls received, and what was specifically done.

RTO/ERO donates $10000 to support seniors' elder abuse hotline ...’-elder-abu...
The grant to run such a program, from the Ontario Trillium Foundation is running out, and ONPEA has less than a month to raise $75000 to maintain this program. 

The government is similarly using false data. Elder Abuse is a mask for fraud, which is a police matter; or violence, which is a police matter.

What are the solutions?
It is up to us to train front line workers to recognize and prevent such abuse. In my work with Community Home Support, as a volunteer, I feel obliged to report such abuse. I have phoned the Retirement CRIS line, and made a complaint. I have phoned the CoP and complained about my father's physician. Adult children must not be afraid to do this.
([PDF] Screening Tools)

Abuse in an institution
If a senior is abused by a staff member, it needs to be reported. Whether they be nurses, through CCAC, or PSWs, they must be trained to report to their supervisors and family members.
I did so. The family members did not believe the neglect, nor did the retirement association.
Report doctors and nurses to the correct governing body. (If your complaint is with a nurse, again, go to their supervisor, or in a serious situation document everything and go to theCollege of Nurses of Ontario. If it is a physician then the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is there to help. .)
Report PSWs to their supervisors, and the police.
All this money on advertising is a waste of resources.

Complaints about retirement homes

If a senior is in a retirement home, there is a place to phone.
Reporting requirements under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 (the “Act”) came into force on May 17, 2011. Under the Act, there is an obligation to make a report to the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (the “RHRA”) if you suspect any harm or risk of harm to a resident resulting from improper care, abuse or neglect, or unlawful conduct. There is also an obligation to report suspicions of misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money. Residents may make a report, but the Act does not require them to.
To make a report, call the CRIS line at 1-800-361-7254.
Complaints about long-term careIf a senior is in Long-Term Care the government has rules and regulations that abound. Long-Term Care homes in Ontario have a strict complaints process. If there are complaints, and there are enough, then they go on warning and are said to be non-compliant. As a Transfer Payment Agency, they must fulfill the obligations of their mandate.
If a senior is in long-term care, there is an abuse hotline. This political reaction to a real issues is criminal in and of itself. We must train volunteers, Meals on Wheels, volunteer drivers, to report abuse. It is up to the police to charge them.

ONPEA Annual Financial Report 2011 (PDF)
Staff: $630,157 in salaries.
What are 'Trillium expenses' ($174,852)?
What are the results of the reporting line? How many people were taken to police, convicted and charged, through ONPEA's hotline?
I truly believe that even if one senior is saved from abuse, money isn't an issue, but surely we can prevent it in a simpler way.

No comments: