Open Season on the Elderly

elder abuse chart

When it comes to protecting the interests of the elderly, an Auckland-based Family Counsellor has discovered that “there really isn’t any protection at all for this most vulnerable population”.

Stephen Taylor, Family Counsellor & Director of Relationship Matters, has been reviewing what protective factors exist in the aged care industry when it comes to guarding against the possibility of vulnerable elderly being exploited by state-funded or private in-home caregivers.

“When it comes to elder financial grooming and abuse by caregivers, it’s basically open season on the elderly," said Taylor.

"The agencies that are charged with helping the 2200 complainants per annum of elder abuse in New Zealand, such as the Elder Abuse Response Service, or Age Concern, are simply toothless state-funded echo chambers into which complaints go to die; the Police are not interested in helping complainants unless it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed; the Health & Disability Commission complaints process can take over 12 months to reach a decision as to whether a breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer’ Rights has occurred; and the Courts only seem to be concerned with what is legal, not what is ethical in this space,” said Taylor.

“One case I became familiar with was a woman who worked as an in-home caregiver, and who had groomed and then financially exploited so many elderly clients, she ended up with a portfolio of 10 properties to her name. The woman was blatant in what she was doing, the families of the elderly clients couldn’t stop her, and the Police didn’t want to know about what was going on”.

Taylor has become so concerned about this issue, he is setting up an information clearinghouse to inform a petition he intends to present to the incoming Government, concerning creating and enforcing protective sanctions for the elderly, and against Caregivers who exploit their elderly clients for personal advantage.

“Based on what I have discovered so far, there are dozens, possibly hundreds of cases of elder financial grooming and abuse by in-home Caregivers in particular, that have, and are occurring in New Zealand, this abuse is hiding in plain sight, and there is no meaningful state authority to stop this abuse occurring.

"I'm inviting any family who has had an experience of elder financial grooming and abuse by a third-party Caregiver to contact him regarding this issue, and to assist in lobbying the incoming Government to set up robust protections for this vulnerable population, alongside meaningful penalties for those who flagrantly abuse this same vulnerable population," said Taylor.

For anyone concerned about this issue please contact Steve Taylor: steve.taylor@relationshipmatters.org.nz