B.C investing $1.89M to Raise awareness of elder abuse. COVID-19 has enhanced the awareness of senior abuse
In advance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Monday, June 15, 2020, the B.C government has provided $1.89 million to help raise awareness of senior abuse.
The funding will also help create educational programs to protect seniors from physical, emotional and financial abuse.
The BC Association of Community Response Networks (BC CRN) received $1.34 million from the Province to work with organizations and service providers to provide a co-ordinated response to elder abuse. BC CRN leads World Elder Abuse Awareness Day events, and both organizations are active in raising public awareness.
Seniors First BC received $550,000 from the Province to manage a helpline and create programs to inform seniors and people caring for seniors about abuse, as well as educate seniors on topics such as fraud and scams.
“Seniors may be isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this funding will help create awareness programs for families and friends to recognize the signs of abuse, neglect or manipulation in seniors,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors. “With a growing population of close to one million seniors in B.C. who are living longer than ever, it is our responsibility to protect seniors as they age so they are treated with dignity and respect.”
BC CRN is the co-ordinating body for community response networks (CRN), which are networks of individuals, groups and agencies that work together to create a co-ordinated community response to abuse, neglect and self-neglect of vulnerable adults.
“It is our collective responsibility to take care of vulnerable seniors who have the right to be treated with dignity and live free of harm,” Leonard said. “These organizations help inform the public and raise awareness to help ensure seniors are not taken advantage of physically, emotionally or financially.”
Funding provided by the Province enables BC CRN to support B.C. communities to help protect seniors and families. Informational workshops, such as It’s Not Right! and Gatekeeper, help service providers learn how to recognize signs of abuse and neglect. The workshops are facilitated by provincial presenters and are available for neighbours, friends and families who care for seniors.
“Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Health, we now have 80 community response networks serving 232 communities throughout the province, including the revitalized Vancouver Indigenous CRN,” said Sherry Baker, executive director, BC CRN. “I’d like to thank the thousands of volunteers that are dedicated to building safer communities for seniors. Their combined volunteer hours, donations and gifts in kind add up to $1.5 million worth of service.”
Seniors First BC is a non-profit organization that offers a mix of legal, psycho-social and justice-based supports to older adults. Seniors First BC works to prevent elder abuse and to provide support to seniors who are at risk of being abused and whose rights have been violated. Seniors First BC offers a seniors’ abuse and information line, workshops and outreach programs, victim services and free legal services for seniors who cannot afford a lawyer.
“We are using this funding to educate and protect seniors from malicious COVID-19 related frauds and scams that try to trick seniors into giving out their personal information online or over the phone,” said Rick Gambrel, executive director, Seniors First BC. “We also run a seniors abuse and information line known as SAIL, a victim services program and referrals to an in-house lawyer.”
Isobel Mackenzie, British Columbia’s seniors advocate, said: “The pandemic has forced many seniors to remain isolated, which increases their likelihood of experiencing elder abuse. Recognizing the signs of elder abuse and knowing who to report it to is key. These grants to two vital agencies will help to achieve this.”
Funding by the Province supports Seniors First BC’s confidential toll-free Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) that is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Pacific time) at 604 437-1940, or toll-free at 1 866 437-1940. For any emergencies, call 911.