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Elder Abuse Awareness Day: The Importance of Choosing a Safe Home

It’s not something you should have to consider when choosing the best possible living environment for an elderly relative, but sadly, it’s a growing problem. With people living longer and the population of elderly people increasing, cases of elder abuse are unfortunately on the up.  

This month, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was held to raise awareness of this growing problem. So, we thought we’d help to spread the word by discussing this all too common issue and sharing a few tips about how to choose a safe care home.

Elderly abuse is present in the UK

Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to abuse because, in many cases, they are not able to defend themselves. Isolation, fear and infirmity can all prevent elderly people from seeking help, and it’s not always easy for family members to identify.  

It might be tempting to think of elderly abuse as a global problem that does not affect us here in the UK, but a number of exposés in the media in recent years have shown that it’s something we need to take very seriously.

What different forms can elderly abuse take?

Elderly abuse in the UK can take a number of forms:

  • Physical abuse

Physical abuse of the elderly occurs when any type of physical force is used on an elderly person that could be expected to cause bodily harm or physical pain. Pushing, shoving, shaking and even striking an elderly person are all examples of physical abuse.

  • Emotional abuse

The abuse of elderly patients is most commonly emotional. Insulting, threatening, intimidating or isolating an elderly person by verbal or nonverbal means are all examples of emotional abuse.

  • Neglect

Neglect of an elderly person is failing to provide them with the care they need to live a comfortable life. That could be by failing to provide sufficient water, food, shelter, clothing, medicine, hygiene, comfort or personal safety.

  • Financial abuse

Improperly or illegally using an elder person’s assets or other property, such as taking cash, forging their signature and coercing them to sign documents they do not understand, are all examples of financial abuse.

How to choose a safe care home?

The good news is there a number of simple steps you can take to find a safe care home for your elderly relative. Asking friends and family for recommendations is always an excellent place to start. A recommendation from a happy resident, or better still, a number of happy residents, is worth its weight in gold.

In the UK, there are four watchdogs that inspect and report on care providers. Their reports are publicly available and provide valuable insight into how well a home is managed and the quality of the care it offers. In England and Scotland, care providers are also rated by the care regulators. Things to look out for include:

  • If points raised by inspectors have been addressed or whether they reappear on subsequent reports.
  • Whether high staff turnover is mentioned, which could be indicative of an unhappy and unsettled workforce.
  • Whether inspections occur frequently, which could be a sign of recurrent problems.  

Once you’ve found a care home that seems to tick the right boxes, contact the management team and ask them about the specifics of how they will meet your loved one’s needs. You should also ask about the activities on offer, how staff performance is monitored and what is included in the fees.  

Person-centred care

At Westgate Healthcare, we provide the emotional, psychological, physical and medical support your loved ones need to live a happy, free and independent life within safe boundaries. Find out more about the types of care we provide, take a look at our care homes and get in touch with any questions you may have.

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