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Tuesday 19 February 2019
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Crichlow-Cockburn: 21 cases of elder abuse found

Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn
Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn

MINISTER of Social Development and Family Services Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn says 21 instances of elder abuse have been confirmed at private residences and three cases referred to the police.

She was responding to a question in the Senate yesterday.

She said for the six months from October 2017 to March 2018 the ministry's Division of Ageing received 72 reports of cases of elder abuse. Thirty of the reported cases allegedly occurred at geriatric homes and 42 at private residences.

She said the 42 private residences were also visited by inspectors of the division, accompanied by police where necessary.

Twenty-one reports of abuse could not be substantiated nor confirmed, she said, but four of the alleged victims were referred to the National Family Services Division for psychosocial support, including counselling, and two to the Social Welfare Division for assistance.

She said 21 instances of abuse were confirmed. Four victims were relocated to livee with relatives and nine to other geriatric homes.

"In five instances caregivers were removed and three matters referred to the TTPS."

Crichlow-Cockburn said unannounced inspections were also done at the 30 geriatric homes.

"During our investigations we were either unable to substantiate allegations of abuse or found no evidence of abuse at 27 of the homes. We, however, identified instances of non-compliance with established standards in the areas of safety, environment, staffing, policies and procedures and record-keeping."

She said the homes were required to sign compliance agreements to address their respective deficiencies within an agreed time frame and are being monitored by the division. She also said 12 homes were referred to the Health Ministry for registration and nine for urgent or immediate action.

"Verbal abuse was found at one home and the matter was referred to the TTPS. At two homes poor, inhumane and/or unsafe conditions resulted in the decanting and relocation of all residents. The owners of these homes were also referred to the Ministry of Health."

Opposition Senator Wade Mark asked what recommendations the ministry advanced to ensure private residences did not continue with abuses of the elderly.

Crichlow-Cockburn said when abuse is identified the ministry identifies the specific abuse and makes recommendations to treat with the specific areas. She also reiterated that the respective homes will have to sign compliance agreements, which include action plans to eradicate abuse, and the homes are monitored continuously.

Opposition Gerald Ramdeen asked if any prosecutions had begun in any matters referred to the police but Crichlow-Cockburn said after the matter is referred to the police the responsibility of the ministry stops.

She also said the compliance agreements have different time frames and can vary from three months to a year, depending on the extent of the deficiencies.

She added inspectors are required to visit all homes and try to do a random inspection at least once a year, though sometimes it may not be possible because of the number of homes.

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