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“We need a cohesive system,”: BC Seniors Advocate shines a light on elder abuse case spike

B-C’s Seniors’ Advocate Isobel Mackenzie stated there’s been a troubling rise in elder abuse cases over the last five years.

They include a 69 percent jump in violent crime reported to police along with an 87 percent hike in reports of physical abuse.

Mackenzie told Vista Radio it’s clear the province needs to move to a more streamlined process when reporting these crimes.

“We need to move to a cohesive system as we see in child protection where there is one number to call whether you feel you are being abused or where you see a senior being neglected and the person answering that phone is trained in border protection.”

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“They will know the questions to ask, they will open a case file, an investigation will happen and the appropriate expertise and resources for that case will be brought to bear.”

“There are a lot of elements out there that are working they just not working together. Bringing them together is not an overwhelming task to do – we are not starting from scratch. The other thing we do have to do is we need a very strong public awareness campaign province-wide to show people what elder abuse is and if you see it, report it.”

Mackenzie stated a lot of the changes that need to be implemented fall under the watchful eye of the Ministry of Health.

She also mentioned the increases shine a light on a much bigger issue.

“The calls to BC 2-1-1 were up around 30% over a five-year period in terms of abuse and neglect. The challenge is, we are seeing these increases within a context where most people who work in adult care or protection believe that seniors abuse and neglect continues to be underreported.”

Mackenzie adds one-quarter of British Columbians reported they had witnessed elder abuse last year but fewer than half reported it.

A link to the full report can be found here.

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