Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Nurses speak out against elder abuse

Shedding light on the distressing issue of elder abuse is top-of-mind for RNAO.

The association has taken an active lead on the issue, and recognizes the importance of keeping this vulnerable population safe. With the number of seniors expected to hit almost 10 million by 2036, now is the time to act and protect our seniors.

In 2009, seniors over the age of 65 comprised 13 per cent of our nation’s population, according to Statistics Canada. In that same year, almost 8,000 instances of elder abuse were reported.

Abuse on the elderly can take any number of forms from physical, sexual or emotional to outright neglect or financial mistreatment.

Regardless of the definition, RNAO has taken action, and says our seniors deserve top-notch, quality care.
In the mid-2000s, the association held international conferences that drew nurses, political leaders and advocates for the elderly. Many topics were discussed, including how to spot elder abuse and neglect, and how to aid seniors in their transition from hospitals to long-term care homes.

The association continued its work on the issue when, in conjunction with the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), it launched the Prevention of Elder Abuse Centres of Excellence (PEACE) initiative in 2011 in 10 long-term care homes across the nation. The project’s aim is to provide nurses and other health-care providers with additional knowledge when it comes to identifying and reporting elder abuse.

One year later, the federal government, which, at the time, had also committed to mitigating the issue, provided RNAO with support to create a best practice guideline that tackles ending elder abuse (the government also invested in the PEACE project).

For many years, the association has worked to ensure the health of seniors is at the top of political leaders’ agendas. RNAO’s continued concern on this issue ensures our elders’ well-being will not fade into the background.

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