Guest column: We all need to help keep old people safe

Coun Stuart Wallace, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's adult social care and public health committee
Coun Stuart Wallace, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's adult social care and public health committee

Nottinghamshire’s older residents have made a massive contribution to the county and through their hard work have made it the great place we live in today.

For this reason they deserve our utmost respect in their later years and one case of elder abuse is one case too many.

World Elder Awareness Abuse Day took place this month and aimed to help raise awareness on how we all can help prevent abuse amongst this potentially vulnerable group.

Unfortunately, many abuse victims suffer in silence so we rely on reports from local residents to raise any concerns they may have about an older friend, relative or neighbour.

The County Council looks into every report, and will carry out a full investigation and put in place measures to reduce the risk if there is evidence of abuse.

It is a significant concern that the number of reports of abuse amongst the over-65 age group has increased by eight per cent locally in the last year.

However, a rise in reports does not mean abuse is on the increase as we feel this is due to more people being aware of abuse and how to report it.

Furthermore, key professionals such as care workers and police officers are also receiving training on reporting safeguarding concerns effectively, which means we are getting more of the right information to investigate safeguarding issues.

So what constitutes abuse?

Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological and even financial.

Indeed, a doorstep criminal conning an elderly person out of £20 through a sales scam is as much a perpetrator of abuse as someone physically assaulting an older person.

It was pleasing to hear that custodial sentences were given to a manager and members of his team this month for neglecting residents at a Devon care home, which shows the justice system will not tolerate abuse even from those managing an institution.

Yet, abuse is just as likely to take place in the home of an older person, which is why we need everyone to keep a look out and check on older neighbours if they seem under the weather or unhappy.

You are better to be a good citizen than regret not getting involved if someone comes to harm.

Coun Stuart Wallace is chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s adult social care and public health committee.