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Elderly: Abuse

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps her Department plans to take in response to the UK study into the prevalence of elder abuse; and if she will make a statement; (143979)

(2) when her Department (a) commissioned and (b) received the UK study of prevalence of elder abuse;

(3) if she will commission research into the prevalence of abuse of older people who are (a) resident in care homes and (b) suffering from dementia; and if she will make a statement;

(4) what representations she has received on (a) the abuse of older people and (b) the findings of the UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People report.

The Department will introduce a new monitoring system to report the extent of abuse, based on a new national standardised method for the collection of data on referrals in England. The Department will also review the “No Secrets” guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse. The case for legislation will be considered as part of the review.

The report, “UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People, Prevalence Survey Report”, was commissioned jointly by the Department and Comic Relief in August 2005. A draft report of the findings of the prevalence survey was submitted at the end of March 2007. Independent peer reviews were commissioned at the beginning of April 2007 and received at the end of April. The final draft of the prevalence survey report was received on 17 May 2007 and published on 14 June.

The research, which was produced by the Institute of Gerontology, Kings College, London and the National Centre for Social Research, involved a feasibility study of the ethical and methodological issues that would be faced by extending the work to residential care homes. This is the last stage of the commissioned study and is due to be submitted to the Department in mid July. This will enable the Department to assess if, and how, it may be possible to commission further research with residential care populations.

The prevalence survey will have included people with dementia, where they were able to give consent to be interviewed. No proxy interviews, however, were undertaken for those without the ability to consent. Research with people who have severe dementia is extremely difficult, but there are research teams working on innovative methods for involving people with cognitive impairment. The Department’s research governance framework reminds researchers of the importance of working as inclusively as possible and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a framework to enable those without capacity to be safely involved in research, where appropriate.

To date, the Department has received a wide range of representations on the abuse of older people. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my noble Friend Lord Hunt, the Minister of State on 19 June 2007, Official Report, column 94.