Monday, 1 June 2009

Animals have more rights...

Unlike child abuse and animal abuse (The Children's Act and The Protection of Animals Act), there is no single piece of legislation that deals with the abuse of vulnerable adults.

We all know a vulnerable adult, a disabled or elderly member of the family or a neighbour. So this concerns everyone.

Through out out history people have abused their power like Hitler. Or their trust like Dr Shipman. Or parents like Josef Fritzl. Or so called specialist centers like the Judge Rotenburg Center. (Facebook group)

It is still happening today. Every day. Abuse takes many forms. A young man Jesse Moores tragically died. His death could have been prevented (Facebook group) if someone had just spoken out.

No Secrets is the current Government 'guidance' in England

Guidance does not carry the same status as legislation; instead local authorities have their compliance assessed as part of a statutory inspection process. With ‘good reason’ a local authority can ignore such guidance. As a consequence vulnerable adults do not have the same statutory protection as either children or animals.

Such crimes as mistreatment are regularly committed 67% according to Action on Elder Abuse in care settings and by carers
There is a raft of legislation keeping people safe from harm (Human Rights Act 1998, Care Standards Act 2000 and Regulations, Mental Capacity Act 2005). However, prosecutions are very low.
Most councils have recognised that protection (safeguard) of vulnerable adults is paramount and have implemented multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse.

It is our duty to look out for the signs and to do what we can to prevent it. Staying silent is not an option.

Vulnerable adult definition
A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 years or over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or maybe unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

Everyone has a right to:
Live free from violence, fear and abuse
Be protected from harm and exploitation
Be independent – which may involve some risk
Say 'No' to anything they don't fully understand

Forms of abuse
Institutional abuse
Institutional abuse can occur in a care home, nursing home, acute hospital or in-patient setting and can be any of the following types of abuse:
Physical abuse.
Sexual abuse.
Verbal abuse.
Discriminatory abuse.
Psychological and emotional abuse.
Financial abuse.

Neglect of a vulnerable adult can be any of the following:
Not having the help you need to have a bath or shower if you are unable to do so by yourself.
Not getting enough food or drink.
Stopping you from accessing needed care and/or medical services.
Not being given the medication that has been prescribed for you.
Being given medication to make you sleepy when it has not been prescribed or giving you the medication at the wrong time or in the wrong quantities.
Not getting help to stay warm and dry.
Only having old or dirty clothes to wear.
People not caring for you properly.

Professional abuse
Professional abuse happens when a professional does any of the following:
Takes advantage of their client or patients trust.
Exploits their vulnerability.
Does not act in their best interests.
Fails to keep professional boundaries.
Abuse may be:
Professional abuse always involves:
Betrayal of trust.
Exploitation of vulnerability.
Violation of professional boundaries.

Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Discriminatory abuse
Abuse of individual rights is a violation of human and civil rights by any other person or persons.
Discriminatory abuse consists of abusive or derisive attitudes or behaviour based on a person's sex, sexuality, ethnic origin, race, culture, age, disability or any other discriminatory abuse - this includes Hate Crime.

Elder abuse
Can be any of the following:
Physical abuse.
Psychological abuse.
Financial abuse.
Sexual abuse.
Abuse can occur anywhere:
In some one's own home.
A carer's home.
In a day care centre.
In residential care.
In a nursing home.
In hospital.
Both older men and women can be at risk of being abused. The abuser is often well known to the person being abused.
The abuser may be:
A family member.
A friend or neighbour.
A paid or volunteer care worker.
A health or social worker, or other professional.
Older people may also be abused by a person they care for.

Financial abuse
Can be any of the following:
Someone making you take your money out of the cash machine for them.
Taking money from you.
Borrowing money and never giving it back.
Stealing your belongings.
Someone getting you to sign something and you don't know what it is.
Someone taking your pension or other benefit.
Someone asking for money for visiting you socially.

Physical abuse
Can be any of the following:
Being restrained in a chair or locked in a room.
Punching or kicking you.
Throwing things at you.
Grabbing, pushing, poking or slapping you.
Hitting you with an object.
Pulling hair or biting.
Tripping you up.

Psychological and emotional
Hurtful criticism.
Name calling.
Pressure tactics.
Lying to you, or to your friends and family about you.
Persistently putting you down in front of other people.
Stopping you from seeing people you want to see, including friends and family.
Never listening or responding when you talk.
Monitoring your phone calls, emails, texts and letters.
Checking up on you, following you, not letting you go out alone.
Frightening you into doing things you don't want to do.
Making you unnecessarily distrustful of other people.
Upsetting you on a regular basis about things that don't matter to the extent that you may even feel unwell.
Psychological and emotional abuse is generally part of other forms of abuse such as:
Domestic abuse

Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse can be any of the following:
Someone touching you where you don't want to be touched.
People getting too close to you.
Someone making you feel uneasy and upset.
Someone hurting you and making you feel scared.
People not listening when you say no.

Additional factors
Any of these forms of abuse could either be deliberate or the result of ignorance or lack of training, knowledge and understanding. If a person is being abused in one way they are often being abused in other ways too.

What to look out for:
Unexplained injury
Signs of fear or distress
Theft, fraud or financial exploitation

What you should do:
Do act if you suspect a vulnerable person is being abused
Do talk to the person – listen carefully
Do give the person your full attention
Do telephone someone

What you should not do:
Don't ignore it
Don't promise to keep it a secret
Don't put it off
(there needs to be better whistleblower provisions )

Autistic children grow into Autistic adults all too fast. I have been very grateful over the years when staff have ‘off the record’ told me things that have happened to C. I hope with greater awareness of Autistic Adults because of campaigns like the NAS I Exist and Safeguarding adult’s and better quality controls things will continue to improve.
After all we could ALL end up in a care home one day.

Safeguarding Adults is every body's business. Your action could prevent abuse.

Every day, people say nothing!
Please say something.
You could improve someones quality of life or maybe a tragic death could be prevented.


Beth said...

Astounding how much we all take for granted in our lives because we have a voice and the means to be heard and understood.
I do watch – and right now my primary concern is my mother.

Paulene Angela said...

Excellent post Casdok, this subject brings tears to my eyes and a huge pain in my heart.

Unfortunately in this high speed world we do in fact miss so much that is right in front of our face. It is not until we slow down that we start being more AWARE of what is really going on.

You are right
"Please say something"

Stephanie said...

Well, I don't know what exactly to say, but I'm saying something!

Many of these things happen to me. I'm an adult with severe but high functioning autism and I often get taken advantage of, more often than I even realize.

I think that people like your son and my cousin (who is also around 20 and completely unable to communicate) are LESS prone to certain types of abuse because they are quite disabled and get services needed much more easily.

Since I am able to communicate well through typing people assume I am much more able than I really am, which is a major reason for the abuse.

Suburbia said...

Thank you for that. You are right, we could all face it in our future old age, and I too am scared for my mothers future.

I hope things are OK for you and C. This post has made me worry about that.

Casdok said...

Yes things are ok so please dont worry.

Maggie May said...

I also was a bit worried that C might have had some bad experience. Hope not.
I do worry about older people being abused too if they have to go into care. It seems quite common.
I am always going for training about Child Protection but really it is the same for vulnerable adults...... same type of things to look out for.
Doesn't it make you sick?

hooray said...

I will watch, and I will speak up!

laughingwolf said...

great points, cas... seems greed at some level still rules or species :(

Queenbuv3 said...

This post makes me grateful that our son is still at home with us. I pray that is always the case. But things happen sometimes that is out of our control and we may be forced by circumstance to have him live elsewhere someday. I dread ever having to make that decision.

I am always on the look out for changes in my son's behavoir or marks due to injury's at school. Because he is not very verbal he is the perfect target for abuse or neglect.

There needs to be more awarness and laws protecting mentally disabled adults.

Elaine Caul said...

Brilliant post, Casdok. From my own perspective, I was always raised to keep my mouth shut. Growing up, I was made to believe that whatever problems I was having were MY fault and no one ever asked me how I was feeling.
It is only in the past few months that I have finally been confident enough to speak out. I can only appreciate my voice now that I have found it. It saddens me that so many people are still unable to speak out. It horrifies me that so many vulnerable people are still being abused and very few people are brave enough to stop it. We all need to be the voices for those who have none, instead of turning a blind eye

kathleen said...

I too find this a HUGE source of concern. I think that sometimes in all of the worlds it for autism rights, eldercare, domestic abuse victims etc. etc. it is forgotten that actual people are behind those causes.(the cause becomes bigger than the people-does this make sense?) I find that worrisome. Because, when you remove a face-a being, a is much easier to overlook horrible abuse crimes.
Any and all abuse is intolerable.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

It's shameful that we'd toss away lives this way. It's up to all of us to keep our eyes on our elders and the other vulnerable members of our villages.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Isn't it a shame that we need to spell out that people shouldn't be punched or sexually assaulted?

The "hate crime" thing though, gets me pretty nervous. Sticking someone's "attitude" in the same category as rape and assault is a bit over the top, don't you think? Professionals should have a professional attitude (or a good facade), or they should be fired.

Ah, idealism. :]

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Wow, Casdok, your posts are always so full of pertinent information. I was worried about you and C too after this post but I saw your comment to Suburbia. Hope you both are happy and well.
Hugs and love!!

Warty Mammal said...

Excellent post.

Thinking of you and C -

Akelamalu said...

Silence has always been the friend of any sort of abuse. It must be so worrying for you that this could possibly be happening to C. Making people aware of what could be happening in the post is a great start. :)

Tim said...

Having watched BGT for the first timeon Saturday, I think there ought to be a special clause about abuse by ratings-mad TV shows. I was astounded by the inclusion of so many children (sometimes with parents/grandparents) and as for poor Susan Boyle...

Rosie said...

that says it all. silence is everyone's enemy. I hope that I am not so unusual in working in a residential school where we professionals treat all of our charges with consideration, and yes I dare to say it, genuine affection. I am proud to work there!

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a right to:
Live free from violence, fear and abuse
Be protected from harm and exploitation
Be independent – which may involve some risk
Say 'No' to anything they don't fully understand


Lisamaree said...

As you know Cas we are still reeling from the release of the Ryan Report into institutional abuse of children in the Clerical orders in Ireland. The same abuse has also been identified in homes for the elderly.

I try and distance myself mentally as it can make me so mad and sad to hear of the abuse of power. And yet I saw the seeds in our previous settings over the years. A pre-school where the kids were being made to walk around in their underwear as they were "toilet training" and it was easier for the classroom assistant to keep an eye on who needed to go. A school where it took a verbal child to tell his mum that my daughter had been upset when the bus host wouldn't let her on the bus for half an hour, because it made the trip too long. (he told his mum, she rang me, I made trouble!)
And in those seeds you see the belief that "they can't talk, so they can't complain" - *so I can do what I want*
Whereas you and I know that the non-verbal sure know how to complain, if you are prepared to listen and understand.

I wonder what would happen if someone were to go undercover as a non-verbal adult in a centre, and record how and what happens when you appear to be a silent observer?

I bet they would have a bit more to show us than a few bits of dropped toast that makes its way back to the plate ...


well done again Cas. And Godspeed to the new setting

HelenMWalters said...

Such an important message.

Kahless said...

Well done for writing such a comprehensive and important post.

Anonymous said...

thankyou for this.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Thank you for writing this, for spelling it all out. We can't be reminded enough. xoxo

CrackerLilo said...

It makes me so sick that this is needed. Thank you for using your voice to speak for the voiceless.

Anonymous said...

This definitely needed shared. Thanks once again for taking the initiative to open our eyes when we may not want to do so. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this, Casdok.
Brilliantly done, and sadly very necessary. I hope other Hub bloggers, and progressive voices within the NAS and the broader community, take note of it and link to it!

Chris H said...

Saying something is good... but what would be even better is if those in the position to do something ... WOULD.

Cindi said...

In America we have laws to protect the elderly, but unless the abuse can be reported, the laws don't do any good. I am sure there are many elderly people who have no one to tell and/or have no means to get in touch with someone who could help them if they are being abused.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. My mother-in-law is in a home in another state. I am going to start paying more attention to what is happening in her life.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

It's frightening how widespread all types of abuse are. Well done for speaking out. More people should do the same. I certainly learn so much from your posts. Thank you.

bobbie said...

Thank you for this post, Casdok. I will try to speak up through my blog too.

I was so fortunate when my mother was in a nursing home, for three years before her death. It was an exceptionally good one, very small and with a very caring staff. But I have seen neglect in other homes and other situations. So tragic.

Patty O. said...

This is such a good point. I had never thought about it at all, and I feel ashamed of that. I think about child abuse all the time, but you are right that there are many, many vulnerable adults out there who need protection, too. Thanks for reminding me.

Rebel Mother said...

Oh Bravo!

I have worked with vulnerable adults, I also have a father who is vulnerable adult as well as a child who will probably grow into one.

I am constantly aware and vigilant at how vulnerable these people are - this post is absolutely fantastic.

Well done RMxx

david mcmahon said...

It is our responsibility. All of us.

Seamus said...

This is something that concerns my sibs and I since dad (92) is in the assisted living wing of his community. Since he's mostly blind he's not always aware of what the caregivers are really doing on his behalf, but fortunately the staff there has been very attentive and prompt to action when he complains about anything. We are fortunate, I know; but there have been some of our other elders in years past that have not fared so well.
I believe that it is important to report ANYTHING that seems amiss to the staff or higher. "Squeaky wheels" do draw attention.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Casdok! I struggle with that daily in my work and it is so frustrating! Sometimes, sadly a social worker is all a vulnerable adult has and I can be a ferociously protective one!

Gonzo said...

Thanks for writing that!!

Honeysuckle said...

Really interesting post. I've found that sometimes it's hard to get help for young people who are within the 'child' category, but also old enough to be making their own (self destructive) choices. Even when children are 'in care' there seems to be precious little caring or guidance involved.
All the attention's on every child mattering (and so they should all matter, obviously) so, for adults, I would imagine the situation's even bleaker. Very sad.

buffalodick said...

Very well-written, and a good point made! However, I believe laws are an after-thought. People should be brought up to understand compassion and decent behavior...when it is made a law, it is too late already...Laws do not change behavior, they simply punish..

Dianne said...

We all need to look out for each other!

thanks C for all the information

Anonymous said...

Well done, my friend. This needed to be said.

Michele said...

Abuse is horrible and I am glad to see it going out and about so strongly to speak up... to get help and not be ashamed. It does affect everyone at all ages, men and women.
If I knew today as a little girl, my life would be so much better. I would not have the seizures I have today and I would still have the loving twin sister that I have lost to the abusive hands of my father and mother. It's a struggle I deal with everyday, a guilt I live with and probably will for the rest of my life...
thank you for doing such a good job on this post.

Anonymous said...

A mind bogglingly intense and very important post Cas. Especially in the light of yesterday's story of the autistic boy, punched by a gang of slimeballs, who died as a result.
Rage and anger and despair boil up in me at the punishments meted out to these creatures when caught.

Sandi McBride said...

Leave it to you dear one, to bring to the forefront a very hot topic right now...thankfully here in the States there are many laws in place now to punish the wrong (dare I say Evil)doer and those laws are brought to bear on a daily basis...and that's the pity of it, that there is a need for such laws and that they are used so frequently...I haven't been by in a while and for that I apologize...I won't be remiss again! I have missed your common sense and "hit the nail on the head" approach to life!
hugs and lots of them

Cheffie-Mom said...

Very true and very powerful post. Congrats on the Post of the Day Award from authorblog.

Dave Coulter said...

That list doesn't say much for human beings does it? Sigh....

Shrinky said...

A very significant post, Casdok - it is vital the weak and vulnerable in our society are given the same basic rights which most of us take for granted.

Shari@aPsychMommy said...

wonerful post to bring awareness on this topic. My grandmother was abused in a nursing home, so this topic hits close to home

San said...

I have a friend of a distant relative who was in a nursing home after a stroke, powerless. A cruel worker there found fun in spraying her with water. As luck would have it, the woman's daughter visited her after one of these incidents and discovered her mother had been sprayed by the employee. She pursued it with a vengeance. Not only will that employee never work in that facility, she will never work in any such facility. I believe she should have been arrested and put in prison, however.

The story makes me frightened and furious at the same time!

Thank you for this important post.

Mama Zen said...

Fantastic post. As you mentioned, prosecutions are far too infrequent.

Jen said...

Thanks for the great post. It's the same in Canada...and something that we all need to watch out for. If society doesn't protect its most vulnerable members, what good is it?

Anonymous said...

This is very informative. I hope it is read by the right people. Thank you for bringing to our attention, the fears of adult life in the world of autism. Growing up too fast is something I'm experiencing with Amy.

Love to you and C,
CJ xx

Maddy said...

I've been keeping an eye [or rather an ear] on this via 'best of today' and 'woman's hour' on my i-pod. Ever vigilant.
Best wishes

Stacey said...

Hi casdok, gosh this post hit my heart...
Well done for highlighting this, not enough is done to protect vulnerable children/adults.
Three years ago we found out that our son had been miss-treated by a staff member...
Unfortunatly some people use there postion of authority to get to the vunerable.

Marita said...

:: applause ::

well said.

thank you.

Julie L. said...

Powerful Post. Well done! I may have to come back a few times to check out all your links!! : )

Merlin's Wizard said...

Brilliant post- it certainly opens your eyes.

Take care
Merlins wizard

Unknown said...

You are, undoubtedly, one of the most amazing people I have ever had the privilege to come to know. We have never met - but if we ever do, I hope I have the time and opportunity to make you understand what an extraordinary person you are. I know you don't see it in yourself - but that's part of why you are so unusual and so rare.

Stay the course, Casdok. You are the voice that so many don't have on their own.

Thumbelina said...

Excellent post as always Casdok. But one very close to my heart.
Silence kills.

Thank you for posting this.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

This is a topic close to my heart. It breaks my heart that so many vulnerable people are mistreated by people they are meant to trust. Human nature can be ugly and cruel and make you lose heart. But equally so there are small and grand acts of kindness that take my breath away. This is a terribly important post and if even just one person prevents or stops just one case of neglect or cruelty then you have done your work. Good on you and thanks for the reminder that we should pay more attention to what is happening around us.

Phil said...

Hi Casdok! It's been a long time since I've visited your blog. I'm back to writing my regular blog. As always I see that you are as passionate as ever about caring for others. I don't know how you get the energy to do all that you do. I hope you and your son are well. Take care!

Jade said...

Great info to share my friend. It's horrible that abuse in the human service field of work is even a issue. It truly breaks my heart.

How are you? How is C? Drop me an email when you haves chance. I know you're a busy ma'ma. ;-)

Jade said...

Great info to share my friend. It's horrible that abuse in the human service field of work is even a issue. It truly breaks my heart.

How are you? How is C? Drop me an email when you haves chance. I know you're a busy ma'ma. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Indeed. I am requird by law to report such abuse, but in so many cases it is overlooked.

Anonymous said...

Great post, very depressing and worrying for us parents with vunerable children.

lime said...

this is all so true. it is so sad that the people least able to defend themselves are so often victimized.

Dr. Deb said...

Just the other day I saw a van filled with older disabled adults, speeding down the road. I saw the driver whiz past another car only to turn into the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru. I eyed the van number and called the local facility to say the driver should be fired for putting so many people in harm's way. I feared for the adults passengers too. What must they be thinking and feeling being tossed around in such a speeding vehicle.

Phil said...

C'mon Cas, it's time to get another post up here. It's been weeks!

CAMILLA said...

I have witnessed some abuse when working as a nurse many years ago, it could be said that I was indeed a 'whisle blower', but I am glad that my voice was heard and that the people in question were dismissed after the board of enquiries.

We need to speak out and not let this be swept away under the carpet.

Dr. Deb said...

This is great information to have!!!!