A new report examines the experience of participants in socio-drama workshops designed to help care workers and older people in residential settings challenge ageism, understand their human rights and prevent elder abuse.
HSE figures have consistently shown an increase in the number of reported cases of elder abuse since 2008. A recent HSE report identified almost 8,000 reports of abuse against adults in 2016, almost half of which were against people aged over the age of 65.
The true figure is likely far higher due to a lack of awareness of the issue and a reluctance on the part of many victims to report their case to the HSE.
Innovative new approach
An innovative new approach to tackling elder abuse is a project being led by Age Action and the Gaiety School of Acting with partners in Finland, Italy and Romania that uses drama workshops to educate older people and carers about their human rights and how a rights-based approach can help tackle elder abuse.
Dr Marita O'Brien continued: "Over recent months we've worked with the Gaiety School of Acting and our European partners to develop a series of workshops that can be run in nursing homes or other residential settings.
"It's a creative and interactive way for care staff to learn how their actions can be perceived by older people and it helps older people to understand the kinds of behaviour they should not accept and encourages them to act if they believe they are being abused."
Experience of workshops
The project's latest report is based on evaluations of 12 different workshops held in the four partner countries. More than 200 care workers and residents were involved.
The feedback will be used to identify ways of improving the workshops for future projects and also highlights the different experiences and understanding of elder abuse across the Italy, Romania, Ireland and Finland.
"We're very grateful to all of the participants," said Dr O'Brien. "Their ideas, suggestions and constructive criticisms of the workshops were really useful and highlighted the value of using a socio-drama approach to help tackle elder abuse.
The Erasmus + funded project involves Age Action and partners in Finland, Italy and Romania, along with the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, in tackling elder abuse, particularly for older people receiving care. It focuses on educating and empowering older people to protect themselves.