Focus shifting to response

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by Rachael Comer

Elder protection is set to take a different direction in the region.
Age Concern Canterbury is advertising for a South Canterbury elder abuse response clinician, in line with government contracts that take effect from July 1. Family Works, run by Presbyterian Support South Canterbury, has had the contract for the past several years.
Age Concern Canterbury chief executive Simon Templeton said there had been an Age Concern Timaru branch many years ago.
“I understand they fell into financial difficulty,” he said.
“Age Concern Canterbury has had a staff member there [in Timaru] now for the last three years, working out of Community House.
“They deliver the accredited visiting service – matching volunteers to lonely, isolated older people.”
Mr Templeton said the focus of the service would now be more on response.
“The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) have shifted the focus to a more face-to-face with affected individuals service, rather than education and prevention.
“The education will likely be delivered by MSD in another way. Elder abuse case work has always been a large focus of the service, and it is important that we focus on individuals affected by elder abuse so we can support them to stop it happening.
The contract is for three years, to June 30, 2020.
He said while it was difficult to anticipate how many cases the elder abuse response clinician would deal with in South Canterbury, he thought it would “probably be 60 to 70 per year”.
“As we haven’t been managing the contract down there, we don’t have any figures,” Mr Templeton said.
“I know they managed 70 cases last year.
He said elder abuse could be defined as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”.
Seventy-five per cent of elder abuse was committed by a family member, he said.
“If we do nothing about abuse or neglect we are condoning the behaviour.”
Presbyterian Support South Canterbury marketing, communications and fundraising manager Katerina Tiscenko said clients had been notified of the change and were being kept updated.
Staffing levels at Family Works South Canterbury would not be affected by the change, she said.