Protecting seniors through education, awareness
More seniors in B.C. experiencing abuse and neglect are getting access to resources and support they need from local Community Response Networks (CRN).
“Seniors are an important part of our communities, providing a connection to our history, passing on wisdom and sharing their unique life experiences,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been isolating for many of our seniors and while we hope it would never happen to someone we know, being isolated makes it easier for them to be victims of elder abuse. The BC Association of Community Response Networks help British Columbians recognize the signs of elder abuse so we can prevent the harm and distress it causes, and ensure our seniors are being treated with the care and respect they deserve.”
The Province has provided more than $1 million to the BC Association of Community Response Networks, the co-ordinating body for 81 networks throughout B.C. supporting more than 230 communities. This funding supports the networks’ ongoing operations, including distributing materials to educate the public on elder abuse, neglect and isolation, so they can recognize and address it quickly. The funding also supports each network’s local events and projects, which include bringing seniors together to prevent isolation and helping them build trusted connections within their communities.
“We need to ensure all British Columbians know the signs of elder abuse so they can address them quickly. The ultimate goal should always be preventing abuse from even occurring in the first place,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care. “Senior abuse can come in many forms, including financial, emotional and verbal, but too often it is ignored or hidden away. We have a duty to do more for our seniors to ensure they are able to live the rest of their lives safe and happy.”
Community response networks are local service providers, agencies, professionals and volunteers who work together to raise awareness of senior abuse, neglect and self-neglect through workshops, community events and through the distribution of information and materials. They also make referrals to services in the community for seniors who need individual support.
“The Province’s continued support has meant community response networks, and the seniors and communities they support, continue to benefit from the coaching, mentoring and education that the BC CRN provides,” said Sherry Baker, executive director at the BC Association of Community Response Networks. “We support 81 CRNs provincewide, including Indigenous, Chinese, South Asian, francophone and LGBTQ2S+ CRNs in building healthy and safe communities for all.”
The BC CRN also offers two workshops that help British Columbians recognize senior abuse and neglect and offer ways to support the seniors experiencing it. It’s Not Right! Neighbours, Friends & Families for Older Adults, which has been presented hundreds of times around the province, is geared towards citizens, residents, neighbours, family and friends of seniors, while Gatekeeper is for essential workers who have regular contact with seniors, such as health-care workers, service providers and care aids.
Past community projects organized by local CRNs include World Elder Abuse Awareness Day events to recognize the value of seniors hosted by the Chinese CRN in the Lower Mainland; personal care packages provided to seniors in Fort St. John; a new Advance Care Planning tool for 2SLGBTTQAI+ seniors developed by the LOVE LGBTQ2S Vancouver Island CRN; and World Intergenerational Day events and presentations for seniors organized by the Wii O’ o’ m Niin CRN.
- Elder abuse, including neglect and self-neglect is defined as a single or repeated act, or a lack of appropriate action, that causes harm or distress to an older person.
- Elder abuse can take place in a senior’s home, a care facility or in the community, and often involves a person in a position of trust or a situation of dependency. The abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, spiritual or neglect.
- A national prevalence study found that approximately 8% of seniors in B.C. experience some form of abuse. However, this may be higher, as older adults are often reluctant to report abuse.
To learn more about elder abuse and neglect, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/seniors/health-safety/protection-from-elder-abuse-and-neglect
To learn more about the BC Association of Community Response Networks, visit: www.bccrns.ca
Find your community response network: https://bccrns.ca/resources/crn-directory/
SeniorsBC website: www.SeniorsBC.ca
By dialling 211, seniors and Indigenous Elders can access Safe Seniors, Strong Communities, a program through United Way, that was launched during COVID-19 and matches older adults who need support with non-medical essentials, to volunteers in their community: http://www.bc211.ca/safe-seniors-strong-communities/
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