Author: Angie Ash, Angela Ash Associates

Day Two – Wednesday 26th June

Strand – Health & Well Being

Session Five: 11.15am – 12.45pm

The right of older people to be free from mistreatment is fundamental to active and dignified ageing, which are aspirations of the Wales Strategy for Older People*. National policy guidance on the protection of vulnerable adults from abuse was issued by the government of Wales in 2000. Early research on the implementation of this multi-agency safeguarding framework found social workers often reluctant to use it when dealing with potential abuse of an older person.

This paper reports on research carried out in a local authority in Wales. The project set out to identify what influenced social workers when they dealt with potential abuse of an older person. Amongst its findings, the research threw light on how social workers understood, and responded to, elder abuse. The actions social workers took when dealing with possible abuse of an elder were constrained by a number of factors, including: social workers’ own awareness of elder abuse and domestic violence in old age; resource shortfalls, such as a lack of services to people living with dementia; and the known poor quality of some residential provision for older people. None of the ‘everyday’ dilemmas social workers described in their work to protect older people from abuse was challenged, or understood as matters of ethics and morality. This paper suggests how ethical social work practice and ethical policy-making in adult safeguarding may be achieved.

* Wales Assembly Government (2008) The Strategy for Older People in Wales 2008-2013. Cardiff: WAG.

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