The standards covering community aged care should require that all care workers undertake elder abuse training, while all certificate level aged care courses should include a mandatory unit on responding to abuse, Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence has concluded.
On Wednesday the commission handed down its report into family violence, which included a chapter on violence against seniors, as elder abuse is most commonly perpetrated by a relative or spouse of the older person, often an adult son or daughter.
The commission recommended that the Victorian and Federal Governments work together to ensure, through their accreditation and funding arrangements, that all aged care workers, including aged care assessment services, had undertaken training in identifying and responding to violence against seniors.
“It is necessary that people providing aged care services in all settings, including an older person’s family home, are equipped to identify and respond to family violence,” it said.
The commission recommended that the Community Care Common Standards specify that frontline care workers must have completed certified training in identifying and responding to family violence.
It also proposed that the new certificate courses in community services, which have replaced the certificate III in aged care, should have a core rather than elective unit covering family violence and older people.
As Australian Ageing Agenda reported in January last year, when the commission was established, seniors groups and advocates were hopeful that elder abuse would be included within the broad remit of the inquiry.
This week, responding to the final report, they praised the focus on elder abuse and endorsed the key recommendations – including improved training for aged care.
Seniors Rights Victoria manager Jenny Blakey said the commission had picked up on her organisation’s recommendations around more information on elder abuse for older people, better training in aged care, the trialling of a Victoria Police elder abuse response team and more funding for Seniors Rights Victoria to provide expert training to the broader family violence sector.
Benetas CEO Sandra Hills said the report’s focus on elder abuse acknowledged the vulnerability of older people in the community.
“This report is a timely and important reminder that unfortunately elder abuse continues to exist in our community and can have devastating consequences,” said Ms Hills.
“Contributing factors such as a reluctance to report instances of elder abuse and issues around ageism in our community make this a highly complex issue,” she said.
Bill Appleby, CEO of Jewish Care, welcomed the report’s emphasis on the importance of staff training, and said his organisation’s recent position statement on family violence demonstrated its commitment to staff training on the issue.
The Victorian royal commission report comes as the Australian Law Reform Commission conducts a national inquiry into the laws and frameworks to safeguard older Australians from abuse.
That inquiry, which will report in May 2017, would identify best practices for protecting older Australians through the legal system, Attorney General George Brandis has said.
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