Reaching Out for Help: Recommendations for Practice Based on an In-depth Analysis of an Elder Abuse Intervention Program

Jennifer Storey, Melanie Perka

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Elder abuse is a growing public health concern with serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Intervention research is lacking despite its potential value to victim protection. This study investigates the first and longest running social work intervention program for elder abuse in Canada. The aim of this study is to provide a better understanding of the scope of the problem and needs of the population to inform program development through the recommendations made. 164 cases of elder abuse reported from January 2012 to April 2014 were examined. Case characteristics and related recommendations are reported. Third parties reported most abuse, which was typically emotional and financial; polyvictimization was present in most cases. Intake practices that may have facilitated reporting are described and recommendations to improve victim reporting and confidentiality are made. Victim health problems and dependency were common and many victims lacked support. Perpetrators often resided with victims and had mental health and social functioning problems. Case management varied in length and several barriers were identified. Multiagency work is recommended to better manage the needs of the victim, risk factors related to the perpetrator and victim-perpetrator cohabitation. Recommendations to improve the safety of the victim and that of professionals are also made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1070
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2018


  • Elder abuse
  • social work intervention program
  • elder mistreatment
  • elder abuse and neglect prevention
  • abuse of older persons

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