Charity calls for action on abuse in sheltered housing
Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) has called attention to reports that tens of thousands of instances of abuse have taken place in sheltered housing over the last three years, as revealed by a BBC File on Four investigation.
Data collected via Freedom of Information requests sent to local authorities shows that over the period 2014/15 to 2016/17, more than 30,000 instances of abuse in sheltered housing complexes were recorded across the UK.
The figures showed a 30% increase over the period, despite many councils providing either incomplete data or none at all.
AEA director Stephen McCarthy said the findings were “deeply troubling” and should trigger an urgent investigation into what is happening, and what is being done about it.
“Sheltered housing is not regulated in the same way as residential homes, and most complexes no longer have dedicated managers living on site,” said Mr McCarthy.
“Yet there is an increasing number of frail and very vulnerable older people living there, part of a government strategy to keep people at home for longer – but without the same protections.
“The fact that there were 7,200 reports of neglect says a lot about what is going wrong in this system, which seems to treat this type of accommodation as just ‘housing’ when it is so much more than that. It is ‘sheltered’ for a good reason.”
Mr McCarthy said AEA had highlighted in a recent report that there was a ‘postcode lottery’ when it came to councils investigating allegations of abuse, with some launching an inquiry whenever abuse is reported and many others not.
“We have no doubt that these latest figures are the tip of an iceberg, and that many cases in sheltered housing go unreported,” he said.
“How much longer must older people put up with this? This is the reality facing too many older people across the UK. It’s about time the governments of the UK got serious and made elder abuse an aggravated offence similar to hate crimes based on race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.”