Since opening its doors in 2019, ELSA (Engaging & Living Safely & Autonomously) a Health Justice Partnership between ECLC and Eastern Health has delivered critical services and supported 30 older people who were experiencing or at risk of elder abuse and who needed help.
ELSA has provided this support through its legal and financial counselling services which are embedded into the health service to help identify and quickly respond to older people with increased vulnerability who are experiencing or at risk of elder abuse.
From October 2019 to January 2021, the ELSA team has:
- Held 90 client sessions (an average of 3 sessions and 2 hours per client).
- Supported 83 health workers, 5 family/friends and 3 other professionals with a patient, family member or friend experiencing or at risk of elder abuse.
- Held 16 online (via zoom video) sessions and educated more than 200 health workers. These sessions focused on Financial Counselling, and Wills & Powers of Attorney. All participants said their understanding of the topics had increased and that they felt better able to inform their clients.
Financial and psychological abuse are the key reasons older people contact ELSA for help including:
- Theft (27%)
- Taking control of bank accounts and/or assets, including real estate (27%)
- Psychological intimidation (20%).
ELSA delivers services to older patients (inpatients and outpatients) across all Eastern Health sites by phone, video conference and, if safe and most appropriate for patients’ needs, in person.
“Don’t let it go by the wayside. Many people don’t really understand that it is abuse. There is help. It is very sad that there is a lack of awareness from many older people and a majority of people are scared to say anything.”
Older patients can access the ELSA service by speaking to an Eastern Health worker, by calling 0429 697 960 or by emailing ELSA.
ECLC’s Managing Lawyer – Elder Abuse Shahaan Murray (above left) said the kinds of elder abuse ELSA is seeing happens behind closed doors.
“Sadly, the abuse we are seeing is mostly intentional and caused by known and trusted family members and friends.
“As well as trying to help older people who are vulnerable and experiencing or at risk of elder abuse, we must educate and change community views of older people.
“All older people deserve to live their lives independently, safely, and peacefully,” said Shahaan.