A new online domestic abuse training course developed at Aberystwyth University has received the backing of organisations across Wales working to stop the abuse of older people.
The bite-size course, created by the Dewis Choice project based in the University’s Department of Law and Criminology, offers free training to front-line practitioners across the United Kingdom dealing with cases of domestic abuse among older people during the current Coronavirus lock-down.
Since its launch in April 2020, more than 250 people have registered for the course and an action group set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and coordinated by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, is now encouraging professionals who come into contact with older people through their work to undertake the training.
To mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020 on 15 June 2020, Dewis Choice are also launching a revised version of their Practitioner Guidance, which uses the experiences of older victim-survivors to help ensure that practitioners throughout the UK have the knowledge and understanding they need to keep people safe in later life.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said: “It’s crucial that those who are at risk of or experiencing abuse are protected and can get the help and support they need. We all have a role to play in protecting older people, and looking out for the signs of abuse and reporting any concerns we have could literally be life-saving. So I would urge anyone who has any concerns that an older person they know may be at risk of or experiencing abuse to contact their council’s safeguarding team or the police.
“I would also urge key workers throughout Wales who are coming into contact with older people to complete the Dewis Choice training, as this will give them the knowledge and information they need about how to identify abuse and where they can go to get an older person vital help and support during this difficult time.”
The training developed at Aberystwyth University covers a range of areas, including the ways older people may experience domestic abuse, the barriers that may prevent people seeking help, the impact of abuse on people’s mental health and well-being, the links between dementia and domestic abuse, and the sources of help and support available.
Dr Sarah Wydall, who leads the Dewis Choice initiative at Aberystwyth University said: “Since isolation began we have seen a rise in the number of practitioners contacting us for advice, particularly for guidance around safety planning in these new circumstances. We know from our experience that isolation can increase the severity of abuse and limit people’s opportunities for seeking help and support. By offering this online training and copies of our practitioner guidance, we are able to equip frontline staff with the resources to provide the best possible response to older victim-survivors of domestic abuse.”
Based at Aberystwyth University’s Centre for Age, Gender and Social Justice in the Department of Law & Criminology, the Dewis Choice project is funded by the National Community Fund and Comic Relief, and is the first dedicated service to older people experiencing domestic abuse, harm and neglect.