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Preventing Bullying and Abuse of Older People

Nov 19, 2020 | Discover Our Blog, Discover The Home Care Blog

Elderly Woman in carehome

Every adult should be able to live safely, free from abuse and neglect. Most are able to do this, but research indicates that almost half a million people aged over 65 will experience some form of bullying, abuse or neglect. As a highly professional domiciliary care agency we cannot tell you how upsetting it is when people suffer abuse, whether at the hands of someone who they know or who they are paying to help keep them safe and well.  Some of the stories we hear are deeply concerning and that is the reason we are publishing this blog.

Incidents may be one-off or multiple and affect one person or more. Adults may also be affected by more than one type of abuse at the same time or from more than one person. Perpetrators may be the people who are closest, acquaintances or professionals. Keeping our eyes and ears open is part of being part of our society, to protect and support those who are older around us.

What are the types of bullying and abuse people can experience?

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Verbal
  • Financial
  • Institutional
  • Sexual
  • Domestic violence
  • Modern slavery
  • Discrimination


How to minimise the risk of bullying

As evidence shows that most instances of abuse are carried out by someone known to the victim, it is important not to assume that just because there happens to be a long-standing relationship, abuse cannot be taking place. Very often if you think something is wrong, it is worth further reflection and correct to speak to others who might be able to offer perspective.  If you suspect abuse may be taking place and are not sure what to do, we have listed the details of organisations who may be able to help at the end of this blog.

When it comes to finding a professional carer for someone close to you, you want to get it right however we often find people are much more diligent when selecting someone to look after their children than they are finding someone to look after a parent.

Choosing the right carer is the first place to begin to ensure the lowest chance of bullying or abuse. As you will be inviting someone into your home and your personal space or more importantly possibly doing so for a vulnerable relative, you want to feel as confident and comfortable in their ability to make a positive difference in the quality of life of the person being looked after as possible.

Many of the initial calls we receive at SweetTree are from clients and families across London unsure about the type of support they need. When choosing your home care provider, you aren’t just trusting them to help you maintain your or your loved one’s health, lifestyle and wellbeing – you’re also trusting them to help maintain personhood, individuality and dignity Choosing the right provider can transform the quality of life of the person being looked after by providing practical and emotional support, companionship and sometimes, such as where dementia may be involved the specialist skills that really do make a difference. Here are some tips to hopefully help you in choosing the appropriate home care service for you or your loved one.

Top tips when looking for quality home care services:

  • Research different home care agencies; some industry-recommended tools to find this information are online directories, such as: Care Quality Commission, Age UK Business Directory and
  • Prepare a list of your needs and expectations as well as concerns you might have – be ready for that initial conversation with care providers. We also recommend taking a look at our Quality Care Provider Checklist for more information about what to look for when choosing a quality home care provider.
  • Word of mouth is the most credible reinforcement of a quality provider – speak to families of current clients, GPs, and other community members who know the individual or agency concerned
  • Look for companies that invest heavily in training and development for their support workers. You can find out more about what SweetTree offers our staff
  • Rather than simply ensuring the care provider can meet your task oriented needs (washing dressing medications), it’s worth viewing home care as an opportunity to improve your quality of life. Look for home care providers that offer an innovative approach to care that enables you to socialise, engage with your local community and pursue meaningful interests.

Many care agencies claim that they do all of the above however at the end of the day fail to deliver.  All domiciliary care agencies are quality inspected by the CQC (Care Quality Commission), the industry regulator.  If you visit you will be able to find a copy of the inspection report for any agency you are considering and this will help you to better understand how the agency works and how closely what they say matches what they do.

What can I do if I feel unsafe or if I’m worried about someone being bullied?

The best way to protect yourself or a loved one and stop abuse from happening is to tell someone you trust about it. This may feel difficult, especially if the person abusing you is a close friend or relative, but abuse and bullying are never acceptable. You don’t have to put up with it, and there are many organisations set up to help, who will understand the best way to keep you safe and put a stop to bullying or abuse you or a loved one are experiencing.

Here are a few of the first places we would recommend as your first step to gain support and advice:

  • Adult Social Services at your local council
  • Your GP or other NHS health providers
  • The Care Quality Commission
  • Action on Elder Abuse helpline: 0808 808 8141
  • The Police – You can call the local police on the 101 non-emergency number or call 999 immediately in an emergency.