The for­got­ten prob­lem of el­der abuse

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Child abuse is much on the minds of peo­ple these days, what with the in­quest for the Kahui twins and the like.

But el­der abuse seems to have faded from pub­lic con­scious­ness for the time be­ing. How­ever, the ex­is­tence of el­der abuse ap­pears to be alive and well.

I cite the ex­am­ple of an el­derly man who was ad­mit­ted to a rest home when he was not look­ing af­ter him­self or tak­ing his med­i­ca­tion. Sub­se­quently, the own­er­ship of the rest home has changed and the old man has been sub­jected to bul­ly­ing by the new owner and is very un­happy.

His power of at­tor­ney is held by a sis­ter who is dy­ing of cancer.

Al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion was ar­ranged for him by his fam­ily, but the owner of the rest home he cur­rently lives in has ‘‘per­suaded’’ him he can­not leave and will have to stay put for the rest of his life – never mind how un­happy the rest of his life may be.

Just what are the old man’s rights in this in­stance? Since he has been in care, his health has im­proved and he ap­pears to be per­fectly ca­pa­ble of mak­ing his own de­ci­sions, but he is frail enough to feel im­po­tent in the face of the ‘‘per­sua­sion’’ of­fered by the rest home owner.

I have heard of a sim­i­lar in­stance of such ‘‘per­sua­sion’’ in a rest home in an­other part of the coun­try. I doubt these are iso­lated cases. It ap­pears that once a per­son has been as­sessed as re­quir­ing rest home care, all de­ci­sions are taken out of his/her hands.

But this is quite con­trary to the Code of Rights put out by the Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice, which states you should re­ceive a ser­vice only when you have given your in­formed con­sent; you should be pre­sumed com­pe­tent to make choices and give con­sent un­less there are rea­son­able grounds for a provider to con­clude other­wise; and if you have di­min­ished com­pe­tence, you should be al­lowed to make choices and give con­sent to the level of your abil­ity.

All this flies in the face of the above-men­tioned rest home owner’s as­ser­tion that the old man in ques­tion may not leave her premises, even if other ar­range­ments have been made for him.

Ap­proaches have been made to the district health board, the case man­ager of the old man in ques­tion, the authorities who over­see rest home man­age­ment – all to no avail. So where does one turn?

Then there is the on­go­ing sit­u­a­tion where el­derly peo­ple en­ti­tled to as­sis­tance with house chores and cares have their needs as­sessed by tele­phone, not by a phys­i­cal visit from an asses­sor. How can this be sat­is­fac­tory? There is noth­ing like see­ing with your own eyes how peo­ple are cop­ing.

Our speaker this month is lawyer Bill Be­van, well known for his in­volve­ment with the Porirua Com­mu­nity Law Cen­tre. Do you have any legal ques­tions – maybe to do with wills, power of at­tor­ney or sim­i­lar?

Date: Tues­day, Au­gust 9. Time: 1.30pm. Venue: The Porirua Club, Lodge Pl, Porirua. Con­tact: He­len Grif­fith. Phone: 236 0112.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.