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Camden News - By PAUL KIELTHY
Published: 3 September 2009
Elderly abuse by carers rises

Cases increase ‘due to more reporting’

THE number of cases of physical and financial abuse of elderly, ill or disabled adults being investigated by social services in Camden nearly trebled in the past year, a new report has shown.
The number of adults referred to social services because of concerns over neglect, bullying, and sexual or physical abuse rose from 161 to 458 between 2008 and 2009, according to the council report to be discussed by the Housing and Adult Social Care scrutiny committee on Monday.
While family members carried out most of the abuse, in a fifth of cases the abuser was a paid carer. The elderly were the group for which most reports of abuse were received.
The council’s social services experts said the sharp increase was due to better reporting systems.
Daniel Blake, head of policy at campaigning charity Action On Elder Abuse, said: “Research shows that nationally around 90 per cent of older people who are experiencing abuse are not coming anywhere near safeguarding services.
“Camden is probably right to say that this is better reporting rather than an increase in abuse, but no local authority is in a position at the moment where they can be complacent.”
Older people and the disabled are most likely to be victims of financial abuse, while people with learning disabilities are more likely to physically abused, according to the report. Mr Blake said the financial abuse of older people – which can range from straight theft to emotional blackmail – was the fastest-growing area of concern.
Conservative councillor Martin Davies, who is in charge of social services at the Town Hall, said the council was aware that many cases of abuse went unreported.
“Reporting of abuse of vulnerable adults is still very much hidden – people don’t report it,” said Cllr Davies.
He acknowledged that the number of referrals of abuse by carers was “troubling”, adding: “It’s a fifth of the total. You’re working in a sector where you hope that abuse is not being perpetrated by paid carers but the reality is that people in their home environments are quite vulnerable and it is necessary to put people into positions of trust.”
More than half of the recorded cases of abuse were in the victims’ own homes. But a fifth of cases were reported from residential and nursing homes or hospitals.
A council spokesman said: “In 2008/9 Camden Council and its partners carried out a campaign to raise awareness of what forms of abuse constitute safeguarding issues, which has led to more referrals being categorised in this area. Previously, many referrals about vulnerable adults were not necessarily recognised as safeguarding issues, although appropriate action was always taken in response to any concerns.”
Anyone with concerns for an adult who may be being abused should call social services on 020 7974 4000.

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