$23,479 given to research improving detection of elder abuse

The University of Otago has received funding from the Office for Seniors, a five-figure sum to boost its elder abuse prevention initiatives.

One in 10 older people experience elder abuse in New Zealand each year, and the University of Otago’s School of Medicine was one of 11 organisations around the country to have received a share of the Office’s $250,000 Elder Abuse Prevention Fund.

Office for Seniors director Diane Turner said she hoped the projects would help the Office in its mission to prevent elder abuse and raise awareness.

The university received $23,479, towards altering the International Resident Assessment Instrument (interRAI). InterRAI is used in New Zealand as an evaluation for home support or transfer to a care facility, and offered a unique screening opportunity for elder abuse.

While one in 10 elderly people were known to suffer physical, emotional or financial abuse in New Zealand, it is believed the problem remains largely undetected and could be far more widespread than thought.

University researchers have discovered a simple change to the interRAI assessment tool would double the capture rate of elder abuse sufferers, allowing organisations such as Age Concern Otago to better protect the vulnerable.

University of Otago psychological medicine researcher and study co-author Associate Prof Yoram Barak said existing elder abuse assessment tools were "not up to par" and efforts to improve them were crucial.

"Elder abuse is painful and at times tragic and fatal. Unfortunately, the phenomena is under-recognised.

"Our research group at the School of Medicine is committed to improving the detection of elder abuse.

"By analysing nationwide interRAI data, we hope to double the sensitivity of detecting elder abuse."

Other recipients were: Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura Outing Violence (Waikato), Returned Services Aotearoa (Rotorua), Te Ahi Kaa (Waikato), Family Focus (Rotorua), Kilbirnie/Lyall Bay Community Centre (Wellington), Ngai Tai Iwi Authority (Bay of Plenty), Porirua Kapiti Community Law Centre (Wellington), Wesley Community Action (Kapiti/Wellington), Manchester House (Manawatu) and Age Concern Hamilton (Waikato).




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