Recognise and report elder abuse

Elder abuse includes actions intending to harm, the harming without intent, and also the neglect that leads to harm of older people. If you're concerned that you might be at risk, or are worried about a friend, relative or patient, there are ways to help.

The most vulnerable

People who are physically, emotionally or psychologically frail and dependent on others for care are most at risk of elder abuse. Abuse and neglect can happen in the home, as well as in residential care or nursing homes and hospitals. It can involve care workers, family, neighbours, friends or strangers. People most at risk at home include:

  • the socially isolated
  • anyone with an illness that affects memory or ability to communicate
  • those in a poor relationship with their carer
  • those who provide housing, financial or emotional support to their carer
  • those who depend on a carer with drug or alcohol problems

If you are experiencing harm through abuse or neglect, or are worried about a friend, relative or client, there are ways to help. You can go to a social worker, GP or police officer in complete confidence.

How to recognise elder abuse

Elder abuse may happen once or regularly over short or long periods of time. The abuse can be:

  • physical – hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, inappropriate restraint, misuse of medication, inadequate monitoring of prescriptions
  • psychological – emotional abuse, threats of harm, threats of leaving or stopping care, lack of human contact, or stopping access to people who can advise or help
  • sexual – all unwanted sexual acts
  • financial or material, including theft from the abused person, fraud, or coercion involving wills and any financial transactions
  • neglectful - or just not doing something, for example not ensuring the elderly person is eating or is warm and clean
  • discriminatory – racist, sexist, exploiting a disability or other forms of harassment or slurs

There are some tell-tale signs to look for:

  • unexplained bruising, fractures, open wounds and welts, and untreated injuries
  • poor general hygiene and weight loss
  • helplessness and fear – or any sudden change in behaviour
  • unexplained changes in a person's finances and material well-being
  • questionable financial or legal documents, or the disappearance of those documents

Reporting abuse

Some types of abuse - including assault (sexual or physical), theft and fraud - are criminal offences that should be reported to the police, health and social care trust and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

Such reports may lead to prosecution following a criminal investigation. You may feel too afraid to report abuse, especially if your carer is the abuser, but you are entitled to the protection of the law and to dignity and respect. Anyone concerned about a friend, relative or carer who is being abused needs to take action to prevent further abuse and protect others.

Reporting elder abuse to social services

Local HSC trusts have social workers dealing specifically with abuse or risk of abuse. If you want to speak to someone, contact your local trust and ask for the adult protection or safeguarding co-ordinator.

The adult protection co-ordinator will help you with advice and information, and will make sure action is taken to give people at risk of abuse the right protection and support. They can provide a co-ordinating role and investigate your concerns.

How to make a formal complaint

If you want to complain about how a relative or friend is treated in a nursing or residential care home, contact the manager in the home. Nursing and residential care homes must:

  • be registered with RQIA
  • have a formal complaints process
  • investigate and keep records for every complaint

If your complaint is about elder abuse, the manager of the home must tell the:

  • local health and social care trust
  • police
  • RQIA

You can complain to your local trust about the services it provides. By law all trusts must investigate and respond to complaints. If you or a relative are in hospital and not being cared for properly, you can complain to the local trust.  

More help

You can discuss any financial concerns with your solicitor or Advice NI.

Action on Elder Abuse

Action on Elder Abuse gives confidential advice and information to older people who are suffering from violence or abuse. A relative or friend of the person being abused can also contact the helpline on behalf of the older person.

The helpline can be used in the case of older people who live at home, in a care home or who are in hospital. Abuse experienced by older people includes financial, physical, sexual and psychological abuse as well as neglect.
 

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.