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New Elder Abuse Liaison Officer at Peninsula Health

Friday 15 June is World Elder Abuse Day. Peninsula Health has recently welcomed experienced social worker Mandy Strange to the team, to train staff to recognise the signs of Elder Abuse and help empower older people to make decisions around their own life choices.

Q & A with Mandy Strange, Elder Abuse Liaison Officer at Peninsula Health.

Q: What is your professional background?

A: I have been a Social Worker for nearly 15 years, working across the health continuum including acute, sub-acute, speciality medicine, community and Mental Health. For the past 11years I have been working within the health system in both clinical and management positions. In that time I have worked with many different patient groups, many of whom have experienced Elder Abuse and/or long term Family Violence.

Q: Why did you decide to work in the field of Elder Abuse?

A: Elder Abuse in Australia is an emerging area of interest for many health professionals and members of the community as a result of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. As our population is ageing and our family dynamics become more complex, the recognition of elder abuse as a form of family violence is now recognised. It is estimated that at least 5% of our older population aged over 65 are experiencing elder abuse. As a social worker, I have a strong commitment to keeping people safe and ensuring they are empowered to make decisions around their own life choices.

Q: When did you start at Peninsula Health and what does your role involve?

A: I am employed in a new role at Peninsula Health in the Social Work Department. The Department of Health and Human Services has implemented an Integrated Model of Care for Responding to Suspected Elder Abuse, which is being trialled at five health sites in Victoria, inclusive of Peninsula Health, for a period of 12 months. My role is to support staff at Peninsula Health who identify and respond to Elder Abuse. I will also be working to raise awareness of Elder Abuse and to strengthen links between the health service, community partners and older people living in their own homes on the Mornington Peninsula.  A key focus of this trial will be to consider opportunities for the prevention of elder abuse within our local community.

Q: What are some of the most common signs of elder abuse for people to look out for which they may not be aware of?

A: Elder Abuse comes in many forms; the most common being financial abuse and psychological abuse, however the other forms of abuse include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and social abuse.
Elder Abuse can be summarised by the World Health Organisation 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”. Elder Abuse most commonly occurs from an adult son or daughter toward their elderly parent, and may occur intentionally or unintentionally.

Q: What should members of the community who are concerned that someone they know may be suffering elder abuse do?

A: It is important that an older person feels safe and empowered to make decisions regarding their livelihood and provided with information regarding different pathways and support available to them. Any staff member employed by Peninsula Health or members of the community are welcome to call me for a discussion regarding an older person who may be experiencing or at risk of Elder Abuse. My contact details are 0466 781 205.