In advance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Friday, June 15, 2018, the Ministry of Health has contributed $1.4 million to support elder abuse awareness and prevention.
In March 2018, the Province provided $1.1 million to the BC Association of Community Response Networks (BC CRN), and $300,000 to Seniors First BC.
“We all play a part in making sure our communities are safe places where seniors can live life to the fullest,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Supporting the BC Association of Community Response Networks and Seniors First BC helps protect the people who once protected us by raising awareness of the signs of elder abuse and neglect, and where people can to turn to for help.”
BC CRN is the co-ordinating body for Community Response Networks (CRN), which are networks of individuals, groups and agencies that work together to promote a co-ordinated community response to elder abuse and neglect. CRNs identify common themes, barriers and issues related to elder abuse that require work at the regional, provincial and national levels.
“All people, including seniors, have the right to live without the threat of any kind of abuse, including physical, emotional and financial,” said Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors, who made the announcement on behalf of Dix. “Signs of abuse can be difficult to recognize, but by raising awareness and supporting programs that serve seniors in abusive situations, we can help these valued members of society stay safe, healthy and independent.”
Funding provided by the Province will support the BC CRN to strengthen existing networks and workshops, like It’s Not Right! and Gatekeeper. These are educational programs that teach people how to recognize signs of abuse and neglect and how they can help. It’s Not Right! is aimed at community members. Gatekeeper is geared toward people who have regular contact with seniors or vulnerable adults.
“Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Health, we now have 72 Community Response Networks serving 190 communities throughout the province,” said Sherry Baker, executive director, BC Association of Community Response Networks. “The BC CRN appreciates the trust that the ministry has placed in us to continue work to make B.C. communities safer for all vulnerable adults. Our work at the grassroots level is proving to be the best way to achieve ongoing positive change.”
Seniors First BC works to prevent elder abuse and provide assistance and support to seniors who are being abused, or at risk of being abused. Seniors First BC provides direct assistance to seniors, and also assists agencies, health professionals, first responders, neighbours, landlords, businesses and the general public with information about how to prevent elder abuse.
Funding by the Province will support Seniors First BC’s toll-free Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL), for seniors and their loved ones to talk to someone about elder abuse and receive referrals on where to get help. Since 2009, tens of thousands of seniors and the people who care about them have reached out to SAIL.
“We are grateful to the provincial government for providing funding to SAIL,” said Sarah Khan, acting executive director and clinic lawyer with Seniors First BC. “Our staff, who answer SAIL, are trained to provide a listening, non-judgmental and supportive ear. SAIL staff will refer callers with legal issues to our legal staff, and will refer victims of abuse or family and sexual violence to our Victim Services Program.”
“Recognizing elder abuse, and knowing who to report it to, is key,” said Isobel Mackenzie, British Columbia's seniors advocate. “These grants to two vital agencies will help to achieve this.”
- Elder abuse, including 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, and 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 neglectful.
- According to statistics from Seniors First BC, 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:
To learn more about the BC Association of Community Response Networks: www.bccrns.ca
To learn more about Seniors First BC: seniorsfirstbc.ca/