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It is still early days for the Let’s Talk project (we launched on 12 June 2019). Some general comments: Where a family member, or the older person themselves are concerned that elder abuse is being experienced by the older person, we refer to the NSW Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline (as we are in NSW). We have also referred to NSW Police. Depending on the type of elder abuse, we refer to other services, for example legal advice. During our assessment of suitability we assess for risk and also consider who needs to participate, what issues need to be discussed, is this the right time, will this process lead to more harm? This is done in individual sessions – ordinarily face to face (there may be a support person present). We do not mediate if safety has not been established. Shuttle mediation is a possibility – though we haven’t used that yet. We have been more likely to offer counselling with supported referrals. We have used support people in mediation. This has included professionals from other organisations who are already working with the older person / family. Finally, engaging the person who has been alleged to be abusing, or at risk of abusing an older person, is a challenge. We sometimes proceed without that person – the focus is on ensuring that safeguards are in place and working out how other parts of the family system (or older person’s network) are able to work together in safe and constructive ways with adequate support.
Megan Frost