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Unregulated Response Guidelines

Who are unregulated staff and volunteers?

Unregulated staff and volunteers are not members of professional colleges that set standards and exercise discipline over members of a profession. They are often the ones most directly in contact with seniors both in the community and in residential settings. Many seniors depend on their services to meet basic needs and support their daily living activities. Because of the essential nature of their work, they are often the only contacts for isolated seniors.

This group includes: personal support workers, meals on wheels volunteers, transportation drivers, friendly visitors, recreation workers, hospice volunteers, and victim service volunteers.

What resources do unregulated staff and volunteers need?

  1. Access to education about senior abuse, including its warning signs, ways to advocate for support, and to access community resources.
  2. Access to a supervisor for support and guidance about suspected elder abuse.
  3. Clear organizational policies and procedures about senior abuse including responding according to the organization’s mandate.
  4. Clear organizational policies and procedures about occupational health and safety including workplace violence and harassment.

How does workplace safety and risk of violence in the workplace relate to senior abuse?

Concerns about workplace safety arise when providing support to “at risk” seniors, because it can include working in the same workplace as the suspected abuser. Employees need to know that they have the right to refuse to work in environments if they believe that their personal safety is at risk. Please see the Occupational Health and Safety Act for additional information on workplace. Your employer has a legislated responsibility to have policies and procedures supporting safety on the job.

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90o01_e.htm#BK51

What is the process for responding to suspected cases of Senior abuse?

Ask Yourself

  1. Why is this situation causing me concern? The concern could be a “gut” feeling, “red flag,” changes in the persons “normal” behaviour, or an observation that something is different.
  2. What is that I am observing/experiencing? (What do you see/hear?)

Ask Yourself

  1. Is this considered abuse/neglect?

What are the different phases of Senior abuse response?

What is the process for responding to suspected cases of Senior abuse?

Ask Yourself

  1. Why is this situation causing me concern? The concern could be a “gut” feeling, “red flag,” changes in the persons “normal” behaviour, or an observation that something is different.
  2. What is that I am observing/experiencing? (What do you see/hear?)

Ask Yourself

  1. Is this considered abuse/neglect?

Steps/Interventions Required:

  1. Report/discuss your concerns with your supervisor
  2. Educate yourself about elder abuse by reviewing both the warning signs of abuse and the indicators of abuse to help define abusive behaviour.
  3. Document and/or report on the indicators of abuse.

Be cautious of documentation left in seniors’ homes as this could increase the risk of harm to the seniors.

Ask Yourself

  1. Is the senior in immediate danger of harm?
  2. Are you concerned about the health or safety of the senior?
  3. Are there concerns about the senior’s ability to make decisions?

Steps/Interventions Required:

  1. If the senior is in immediate danger of harm call 911
  2. If you are concerned about the health and safety of the senior discuss these concerns with your supervisor.
  3. If you are concerned about the seniors’ ability to make decisions (capacity), it is important to bring these concerns to your supervisor. Your supervisor may be able to advocate for a capacity assessment to determine if the senior is capable of consent to decision making.
  4. Seek guidance, support, and coaching from your supervisor in relation to the safety concerns, ethical dilemmas, and ways of approaching this senior/abusive situation.
  5. Reflect on the duties required in your caregiving role, including your limitations.

Ask Yourself

  1. How can I help?
  2. What can I do?

Steps/Interventions Required:

  1. Overcome your hesitation to help the senior by bringing your concerns forward to your supervisor.
  2.  If a senior makes a disclosure about abuse, welcome the discussion by listening and being nonjudgmental. (Don’t feel like you have to solve the problem).
  3. Consider whether the environment is safe for discussion by ensuring the suspected “abuser” is NOT present.
  4. Report the incident/concern to your supervisor and proceed with agency protocol.
  5. Maintain documentation appropriate to your role.
  6. Maintain contact with the senior.

*Cases of elder abuse often require support from the social service, healthcare, legal, and justice sectors. One person can only help within the limits of her role. Seek support from your own agency resources, and externally as appropriate.

Ask Yourself

  1. Who else can help?
  2. What next?

Steps/Interventions Required:

  1. Continue to provide ongoing updates to your supervisor about the safety of the senior.
  2. Continue to seek ongoing supervision to help you recognize potential signs that the abuse could be escalating. The goal of this is to help reduce further harm to the senior.
  3. Advocate on behalf of the senior when necessary, to influence change and access support. For example, follow up with your supervisor about the outcome of incident reports or steps that have been made to increase the senior’s safety.
  4. Continue to provide support to the senior while reinforcing interventions included in the plan of care for this client.
  5. Work in collaboration with other agencies/people involved. Share information that pertains to the client and the suspected abuse (WITH CONSENT). Follow the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

NOTE: It is important to work in collaboration with partners in care. We all have a role to play in elder abuse prevention, intervention and response.