Report of the Focus Group on Dignity, Respect, and Safety in Ageing

posted Dec 16, 2018, 10:33 AM by Le Phan
Report of the Focus Group on Dignity, Respect, and Safety in Ageing
Led by Thi Bach Mai Nguyen, Vietnamese Canadian Community of Ottawa (VCCO)
Friday November 23, 2018 from 10:30 am to 12: 30 pm
Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC), 55 Eccles Street, Ottawa ON

Participants: 8 Females, 1 Male, and 1 Female Case Manager employed by the SWCHC
Average age of participants = 73 years old 

Process of the Focus Group discussion
The session started with a video then followed by the bilingual Vietnamese-English ppt presentation that was translated by Mai Nguyen, the Facilitator.  The ppt presentation (see attachment) covered the five topics:
Financial or material abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse
Physical abuse
Social abuse
During the ppt presentation, participants were encouraged to ask the questions.  
The video was screened the second time to validate the concepts that participants had captured during the ppt presentation, then the floor was open to the general discussion.   The Case Manager joined the group at the time the video was screened the second time.  

After the 2nd video projection, participants identified abuses that the grand-mother has been living through: emotional abuse, social abuse, and neglect caused by her own son and her daughter-in-law. However, she still accepted the abuse because of the love for her grandchildren.  Many participants said they could see themselves in a similar situation during their lifetime and understood why the grand-mother did not want to move out her son’s house. The participants felt the subject is sensitive, not easy to bring it up with the family members.

With the explanations on different forms of mistreatment/neglect presented by the facilitator, participants realized that they have witnessed or heard those abuses.  Victims of the abuses were their neighbors, relatives or relatives of their friends.  However, their interventions have only succeeded partially, due to the privacy nature of the subject (victims do not want to bring it up) or due to the language barrier in communicating with the mainstream services.  Getting the victim acknowledged the abuse(s), then the victim decided to act on this with the participants’ help was a long-due process.  Participants had to respect the victim’s pace even if they knew that the victim was suffering.  

Most of the participants do not where to report the elderly abuse and how to obtain the intervention service or to seek guidance on dealing with potential elder abuse. 

Questions for Discussion
1. What would you do if a friend of yours was involved in a situation of abuse.  How would you help?
2. How could information about elder abuse be better communicated to your community?
Responses to questions 1 and 2
Here is the approach suggested by the participants:
- Beforehand, to explore with the abused person if he/she needs the support.  If the abused person says “Yes”, the intervention should be done immediately.  If she/he says “No”, give her/him the time to self-reflect until he/she is ready.  Otherwise, the good intention of the intervening friend could create more damages to the victim.
- To continue to make friendly visits to the abused person’s house, observe the changes (physical, emotional, social) and ask her/him what is going on to see if there is an explanation for the change or injury.  If there is a suspected abuse, the abused person is invited to get help from the trusted senior friends or trusted healthcare providers.  Again, this would be done only with the consent of the abused person. 
- To invite the abused person to the weekly senior activities organized by the SWCHC-Vietnamese Canadian Community of Ottawa.  This helps to expand her/his social contacts and resourceful information.
- To learn about seniors’ rights and inform the abused person of his/her rights.
- To engage in education/awareness sessions on elder abuse, prevention and senior rights.
- To become involved in the local elder abuse prevention network.  
The SWCHC Case Manager listened to the participants’ exchanges and proposed multi-stage- approaches with the abused person as explained above by the participants.  She said that:
- Participants could talk about the case to her then she will contact the abused person directly for future follow-ups.  She insisted that the intervening person obtains the consent of the abused person and respects the privacy of the case (not to talk about the case with others without the permission of the abused person).
- Before giving the resource information to the abused person, intervening person should validate the information with the health care providers since the eligibility criteria/ health policies are changing from time to time. 

3. How could people from your community who do not attend social gatherings and are perhaps more vulnerable be given information and assistance with elder abuse.
- To maintain contact with the abused person and keep an eye on her/him.  
- To encourage the abused person to take control of her/his own decisions and healthcare.
- To have the own phone so friends could exchange the information with the abused person by phone.  

4. Do you have any suggestions of ways in which people in your community dealing with elder abuse could be better helped or the services improved?
- To offer the education and awareness sessions on elder abuse within the community.
- To encourage seniors to be more outspoken about elder abuse.
- To compile a list of resource information on elder abuse and provide that list to those who have an interest on the subject.

Addendum note to the report of the Vietnamese Focus Group

The facilitator has just learned that a city-wide service named “Elder Abuse Response & Referral Service (EARRS)” offers intake, information, consultation, referrals, and support to seniors at risk or who are in an abusive situation.  EARSS is currently serving the regions of Nepean, Rideau, and Osgoode Community Resource Centre.  EARSS has two-full time staff: 
- The Intake Worker receives calls from people with concerns of suspected abuse of an older person.  Calls mostly come from concerned family, friends, or service providers in the community, but occasionally a senior gathers up enough courage to reach out for help.  In many cases, the Intake Worker can offer enough support to help client manage a challenging and potentially abusive situation.  
- Some situations are very complex and need more intensive support.  When needed, the Case Manager offers direct support to the client and can assist caregivers or service providers when warranted.
Using a client-centred approach, EARRS works collaboratively with clients and caregivers to help build empowering support networks that help them regain some control in their lives.  EARSS also offer education and awareness sessions to senior groups and community service providers.  During these sessions, people learn how to recognize elder abuse; what they can do to help; and what resources are available in the community.  For more information about EARSSS, or to book an information session for the group, we could contact EARSS at 613-596-5626 or visit
The Case Manager at SWCHC told the facilitator that she had referred one Vietnamese case to EARSS in the past when the case became too complex to deal with.