Can a service provider call Seniors Rights Victoria because they are concerned about an older person?
Seniors Rights Victoria provides general advice to service providers working with older people on a range of matters relating to ageing and elder abuse. The advice is provided on a confidential basis and no client details are taken.
What can service providers do to help their clients to access Seniors Rights Victoria services?
Seniors Rights Victoria can assist a client of a service provider if that client consents to our assistance. Service providers can help the older person to get access to a phone in a safe place where they can make a private call, or can help the older person to attend an interview they have arranged with an Seniors Rights Victoria staff member.
If an older person needs to use an interpreter during the call, the service provider can help the older person to access a telephone interpreter service. SRV can arrange for an interpreter to attend an in-person interview.
What if an older person who is definitely being abused won’t call Seniors Rights Victoria ?
If a service provider has a client who they know is in immediate physical danger or at risk of significant harm, they should contact the emergency services (police and/or ambulance). They should then take further action in line with their agency’s protocol for responding to elder abuse. This could include calling Seniors Rights Victoria to seek information and advice on the facts of the case without divulging any client details, and to discuss ways of assisting and supporting the client.
The State Government has developed With Respect to Age – 2009, a set of practice guidelines to help agencies develop elder abuse protocols. These are available below or from Department of Human Services at http://www.health.vic.gov.au/agedcare/policy/elder_abuse.htm
How does Seniors Rights Victoria support and assist an older person who does not want to take action against an abusive family member or carer?
Seniors Rights Victoria’s advocates support all our clients by helping them to identify and access other services they may need (such as HACC services, Aged Care Assessments and CAC packages, housing, medical services or counselling), whether or not they want to take legal action against an abuser or to recover property that has been misappropriated.
A priority for Seniors Rights Victoria’s advocates is to agree on a safety plan with any client who is at risk of violence. This plan will cover situations where they need to leave home at short notice to avoid physical harm, and will include who they can call, where they will go and how they will get there, and what they need to take with them, including medication and key documents.
How does Seniors Rights Victoria assist older people who have diminished capacity or no capacity?
As Seniors Rights Victoria treats capacity as decision-specific, staff may be able to assist a client with some matters (e.g. assistance around family violence) but not others (e.g. appointing a financial attorney). It is therefore important that Seniors Rights Victoria staff meet the client first to assess what assistance can be provided, even where the client has diminished capacity.
Where Seniors Rights Victoria staff have assessed that a client does not have the capacity to provide specific instructions in relation to a particular matter, Seniors Rights Victoria may still assist the client by:
• acting for the person’s formally appointed decision maker (e.g. attorney, administrator or guardian)
• providing short term advocacy and support where there is abuse or risk of abuse, usually by linking the older person into services that can assist them
• helping to put a substitute decision maker in place for the older person.
How does Seniors Rights Victoria approach the question of a person’s capacity?
Seniors Rights Victoria accepts that a person’s capacity may diminish gradually or may fluctuate and may vary in response to particular decisions that need to be made. For example, a person who has lost capacity to make informed financial or investment decisions may still be quite capable of deciding how they want to live and who they want to live with.
The question of whether a person has capacity to give instructions and to understand the effect of their instructions is initially determined and documented by the Seniors Rights Victoria staff member/s who have had contact with the client in question. Where the staff member is unsure as to capacity, Seniors Rights Victoria will arrange for a medical assessment of the person’s capacity by a trained professional in the area, such as a geriatrician, psycho-geriatrician or psychiatrist.