Urgent action is required in an emergency. Call 000 without delay and ask for the appropriate emergency service/s (ambulance, police or fire).
In most cases the agency you work for will require you to act in accordance with agency policies and procedures regarding emergencies. You should be given information and the chance to become familiar with these.
Depending on the situation you may need to arrange the following for the older person and/or for their carer/s:
If you believe the older person has lost decision making capacity about particular lifestyle, financial or medical issues, contact the Office of the Public Advocate for advice about how to proceed.
See also: Supporting someone who may have decision making problems.
An emergency is when there is an immediate threat or risk of physical harm or serious damage to property. The threat or risk may be suspected or actual. If you are not sure, it is safer to treat it as an emergency.
Older people should be involved in making decisions about their life as much as possible, including in an emergency. However, if a worker decides that an older person is in imminent danger, they should act, even if this goes against the older person’s wishes.
Police should be involved in an emergency where there is an immediate risk of physical harm or serious damage to property. This includes the risk of harm to workers and others, as well as the older person.
As well as an emergency response, Police can also offer the following responses to elder abuse:
In situations requiring Victoria Police intervention that are not emergencies, it is preferable that the older person agree to the police being called.
People may have different responses to police interventions and so it is advisable to ensure that local police are adequately briefed on the elder abuse situation before conducting a welfare check or other intervention.
Police in Victoria are bound by a code of practice requiring they respond to reports of family violence, including elder abuse, seriously.
If you are unsure what to do, or are reluctant to contact police about a loved one, there are non-government community services which can provide more information, advice and support.
You can call Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821.
You can also find information about other organisations to offer support here.
• Contact Seniors Rights Victoria for advice and support
• Consider getting a personal safety alarm
• Ask neighbours to be alert for any signs of a problem
• Make a code-word to signal neighbours or friends that they need to call 000
• Keep a list of up-to-date telephone numbers
• Get a mobile phone (consider a user-friendly, easy-read model)
• Make a safe place where you can go if the person starts to be abusive
• Consider talking to the Police about your safety
• Think about the safest way to communicate with the abuser, perhaps by phone, mail or in the company of someone else.
• Improve outside lighting
• Change locks
• Consider adding a second phone: perhaps in the bedroom; perhaps one with automatic dialing or large numbers.
• Review who has access to your bank accounts
• Review or set up Powers of Attorney
• Avoid keeping cash in the house, or lock it up along with other valuables
• Open your own bank account
• Set up direct debits or Centrepay so that bills are automatically deducted in affordable, regular amounts
• Save a bit of money if possible.
• Consider joining a social group
• Think about supportive people in your circle of friends and family whom you can call on if you feel you need to talk
• Join a community visitor / telephone check scheme or Police Community Register(contact local Police station or local council for details
It is important to ensure that you are safe. If you feel that you work place you should speak to your manager or employer.
If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, contact the Seniors Rights Victoria helpline.
Seniors Rights Victoria can provide risk assessment, planning, legal information and advice, and support.
If you’re a specialist family violence practitioner, you can reach out to Seniors Rights Victoria for secondary consultation