Big rise in claims of abuse against vulnerable elderly people in county, figures in Kent and Medway Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Board reveal
Kent has seen another rise in claims of abuse against vulnerable elderly people in their own homes and while in care, a report has shown.
The number of new referrals about abuse made to social services staff in Kent and Medway, along with other agencies such as the police and the Care Quality Commission, rose by 420 to 3,176 in 2012-13 - a 15% increase on the previous year.
The figures are set out in the annual report of Kent and Medway Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Board, which is chaired by Andrew Ireland, the county council'?s director of social care.
Allegations of abuse against vulnerable elderly people are on the rise. Picture: Library image
Of the 3,176 claims, more than a third - 939 - involved claims of abuse against people over the age of 85, representing an increase of nearly 13% on the previous year.
The highest number of claims involved alleged abuse in care homes - 40% - with 37% concerning alleged abuse in the victims own home.
There was a worrying increase in the number of claims of abuse in a public place, with 89 referrals made in 2012-13 - compared to 66 last year.
When it came to types of abuse, the largest number - 1,231 - related to physical abuse, which includes hitting, slapping, pushing, restraint and misuse of medication.
There were 931 claims of neglect, 80 more than the previous year, covering failure to give medicine and providing food and heating.
There were also 707 claims of financial abuse - covering stealing, cheating or putting people under pressure about their wills or inheritance.
KCC says it is working to improve care for the elderly. Picture posed by models
More abuse claims were made in east Kent, where there are proportionally more care homes, than west Kent.
Thanet and Dover accounted for 623 abuse claims, higher than any other part of the county, followed by Canterbury and Swale where 491 claims were registered.
In Ashford and Shepway, the number was 279. In west Kent, Maidstone and Malling accounted for 318.
Nadra Ahmed, the chairman of the Kent-based National Care Association, said more people were now prepared to complain but often what was thought to be abuse was misconstrued.
She said: "?One case of abuse is one too many. Some of these will be reported and investigated, but not substantiated. When you dissect these figures, a lot of these take place in people?s own homes and are often perpetrated by members of their own family.?
"The care home sector faced funding difficulties that made it more difficult to recruit the more experienced staff needed. ?We need skilled care staff and the issue is how we to pay for that. If we want the best quality service and professionals.?"
Cllr Graham Gibbens, KCC cabinet member for adult social care
Cllr Graham Gibbens, KCC's cabinet member for adult social care, said the figures showed people were more prepared to speak out when they suspected abuse of the elderly.
He said KCC had recruited four additional safeguarding co-ordinators to deal with referrals.
"I welcome the fact that there is increasing awareness about adult safeguarding. I am pleased people are increasingly prepared to speak out. We are determined to respond to any complaints and when they are made, we investigate them rigorously and thoroughly."
Recent high-profile scandals exposing mistreatment in homes, such as the Winterbourne View near Bristol, had made a "massive impact," he added.
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