A GLOBAL RESPONSE TO ELDER ABUSE AND NEGLECT
Policies, protocols and training on family violence exist in all participating coun- tries, but not all institutions have access to guidelines or offer training facilities (Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Kenya). Where there is such access, the training offered is often not formal, standardized, systematic or compulsory. Sometimes elder abuse is included in more general training and work protocols (Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Spain). As a consequence, social workers use their professional experience and train- ing from the area of domestic violence of women and children and then adapt it to their work with older people. In Singapore, many decisions concerning older people require the family’s consent. Front-line workers are therefore forced to judge situ- ations from the perspective of the families. Furthermore, interprofessional coordina- tion is considered to be the key to interven- tion but is often in need of improvement or lacking (Spain).
e SWEF was in general regarded by the
workshop participants as a very compre- hensive and detailed assessment tool.27 Nevertheless, views about its applicability were mixed. e positive aspects outline the extensiveness of the form, covering many factors, questions and themes of which social workers needed to be aware. It could therefore serve as a good prompting tool and a resource for training purposes.
e application of this evaluation form in
most countries (Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland) was considered to be infeasible. e length of the form imposed the main challenge,
providing both practical and theoreti- cal difficulties. Another key problem is the perception of the difficulty of getting honest answers to many of the questions: Some people minimize their problems in order to avoid trouble. In some countries, social workers’ schedules do not include regular home visits and it would therefore not be possible to verify a person’s situation at home. A very solid, trusting relationship would be necessary between the person administering the questionnaire and the interviewed person, but such a relationship can be built up only over a period of time. Some of the wording of the form and/or the style of the questions were considered limiting or inapplicable in some countries (Chile, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland).
In addition, the participants expressed their reservations regarding the application of this form to cognitively impaired people.
e problem of over-assessing people was
raised, as there are already many assess- ment tools in use. It was also stressed that labels such as “abuse” and “neglect” are not often used by social workers. e goal of social work intervention was seen as improvement of an older person’s quality of life and not to accuse and label somebody as “abuser” or “victim”.
Further doubts about the applicability of the form concerned intervention issues. How does the form relate to an interven- tion plan? A manual that accompanies the form to assess suspicion and a flowchart
Country-specific concerns, suggestions and comments on questions can be found in Annex 4.