Experimental estimates of the prevalence of elder abuse in Australian aged care facilities

Elder abuse Aged care quality and safety Aged care Australia

Elder abuse may occur across a range of domains, including physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, financial/economic abuse, sexual abuse, social abuse and neglect. Prevalence estimates for elder abuse in international elder care facilities vary considerably between studies with ranges from 1.9% to 58.3% for physical abuse, 6.3% to 78.9% for psychological abuse and 0.4% to 81.8% for neglect. There are no national elder abuse prevalence rates produced in Australia.

Recently a survey of aged care facility residents was conducted for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The survey was not designed to measure the prevalence of elder abuse. However, this paper utilises the responses from the survey to create experimental estimates of the prevalence of elder abuse in Australian residential care. This research indicates the prevalence of elder abuse is closer to the upper range identified in international studies.

The prevalence of elder abuse in Australian residential care is estimated to be 39.2%. This estimate only includes people who reported experiencing emotional abuse, physical abuse and/or neglect. It does not include financial abuse, social abuse and sexual abuse because the survey did not include appropriate questions to adequately cover these other forms of abuse.

Elder abuse measures may be considered subjective. To enable readers to consider how the estimates vary according to their views, the paper sets out the proportion of people who reported each type of concern and gives a second approach to the estimating the overall prevalence rates.

This paper provides a platform to further the research into elder abuse prevalence and prevention in aged care intuitional settings.

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Research Paper 17