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Elderly: Abuse

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of the number of vulnerable older people who have undergone physical or physiological abuse in residential care homes in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (229245)

The information requested is not held centrally. However, residential care homes are required by the care home regulations and national minimum standards to record all allegations and incidents of abuse, together with the follow-up actions taken. Where harm or risk of harm occurs, care homes have a legal duty to make a referral to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list. Care home managers should also be aware of their local authority safeguarding arrangements and make appropriate referrals to the Adult Protection Co-ordinator.

On 16 October the Government launched a public consultation on the review of the local safeguarding guidance ‘No Secrets’. This guidance provides a framework for councils to work with the police, the national health service and regulators to tackle abuse and prevent it from occurring. A copy of the consultation document ‘Safeguarding Adults: A consultation on the Review of the ‘No Secrets’ Guidance’ is available in the House of Commons Library and the DH website

Work is under way to develop an annual data collection of adult abuse referrals in England. The NHS Information Centre (IC) for health and social care is leading the work, and has now undertaken a pilot collection from 40 local authorities. The data are currently being analysed. Subject to the outcome of the pilot, the IC expects to be able to implement a data collection across all councils during 2009-10.

The Government acknowledge that more information is needed about the experiences of vulnerable adults in care homes. That is why on 27 March 2008, the Department and Comic Relief announced £2 million funding for a new joint research initiative investigating the dignity and safety of older people being cared for in institutional settings. This will explore the experience of older people, and the staff who care for them, in settings such as care homes, intermediate care and hospitals. It builds on the earlier research and is likely to run until April 2011. The tender exercise for this is currently under way.