Reducing the risk of sexual assault in aged care

An online education course aimed at preventing sexual assault in residential aged care launches Thursday – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

An online education course aimed at preventing sexual assault in residential aged care launches Thursday – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Led by the Older Person’s Advocacy Network – in partnership with Celebrate Ageing and the Older Women’s Network NSW – the courses are a component of the Ready to Listen project, which was established in 2022 to build the skills and capacity of providers to better respond to sexual assault in aged care homes.

Figures from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission show around 43 sexual assaults occur in aged care settings each week.

Funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care, the e-learning facilitator course takes a top-down approach and is geared toward aged care educators and clinical governance or compliance managers.

The course consists of practical strategies and learning activities with downloadable resources. There is a particular emphasis on the impact sexual assault can have on people with dementia.

Dr Catherine Barrett

Project coordinator and director of Celebrate Ageing Dr Catherine Barrett said educating people about sexual assault is a key prevention tool.

“That’s the work that Ready to Listen has been focused on. The response to the education we have provided has been heartwarming – our first webinar had over 1,500 people register, and service providers are telling us that they want more education and more resources. A door has been opened I think.”

Kelly Glatter is a clinical care specialist at Regis Aged Care. As an organisation, Regis is looking to drive change in the way sexual assault is managed in the sector, said Ms Glatter.

“Because we have a responsibility to provide an environment in which older people feel safe and protected. And in the event an older person is a victim of this sort of crime, that they feel supported, that they feel safe enough to let us help them.”

People shouldn’t shy away from the subject of sexual assualt, said Ms Glatter. “It’s about accepting the statistics. And about being open and honest with ourselves if we’re falling short.”

BaptCare Aged Care Services – a faith-based not-for-profit organisation working across Victoria and Tasmania – is another provider that has backed the Ready to Listen initiative.

“We wanted to develop an organisational framework that would guide decision-making across our residential home care and in-home care,” said compliance coordinator Kate Flight.

Ms Flight said the organisation identified key areas to explore. “How to manage difficult conversations about alleged assaults versus consent. Gaining consent prior to providing intimate personal care was also something we wanted to look at and the complexities related to cognitive abilities.”

Craig Gear

OPAN CEO Craig Gear said providers such as Regis and BaptCare have helped lead the way in acknowledging and preventing sexual assault.

“They have led by example, showing the rest of the sector how we can reduce the risk of sexual assault for older people in residential aged care.”

Providers wishing to register for the online education course can click here.

Providers wishing to book a general aged-care information and education session for their residents can call 1800 700 600.

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Tags: baptcare, craig gear, kate flight, kelly glatter, opan, regis-aged-care, sexual assualt, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day,

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