ACTION on Elder Abuse Cymru has welcomed the enactment of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, which includes powers to better protect vulnerable adults, and notes that this moves Wales up to second place in the UK in terms of safeguarding older people.
The Act comes into force on 6th April 2016 and overhauls current safeguarding structures, providing a new legal framework to protect adults and children at risk.
“It’s a major positive step to introduce mandatory reporting of suspected abuse by agencies, as this extends the potential for victims to be identified and protected. It makes adult protection truly everybody’s business, and that should be welcomed,” says AEA Cymru director, Rachael Nicholson.
“This legislation moves Wales ahead of England and Northern Ireland, in terms of adult protection, and closer to the Scottish model. It is also a positive step towards acknowledging that the protection of adults at risk must be viewed with the same importance as that of children. Elder abuse affects approximately 500,000 people across the UK every year and it is important that we don’t shy away from the devastating reality of this issue.”
Strongly welcomed is the introduction of Adult Protection and Support Orders, a legal method of preventing a third party from blocking access to a vulnerable person and allowing a confidential interview with the suspected victim. “30,000 older people are abused in their homes every year in Wales and we know that many victims are unable to get the help they need because they are prohibited by their abusers from speaking to those who can offer support and safety”, says Nicholson.
“The APSO aims to address this by allowing proper risk assessments be carried out. But it will also signal to the abuser that violent behaviour against a vulnerable adult is considered by all to be a grave matter”.