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Elder abuse response services in Aotearoa New Zealand

MSD funds providers to deliver Elder Abuse and Response Services (EARS) that address the immediate needs of older people experiencing or at risk of experiencing abuse and neglect. Elder Abuse services were added to the Family Violence work programme in late 2018.

Elder abuse in Aotearoa - current state

Following engagement with EARS providers in 2019, the Family Violence Services team released a report on the current state of EARS. The report provides insight into elder abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand, in particular the current state of the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD’s) Elder Abuse Response Services (EARS).

We visited 15 EARS providers across Aotearoa to gain an understanding about what is affecting elder abuse in their communities, the strengths and weaknesses of EARS, and potential opportunities to improve future services.

The report provides a blended analysis of the themes from these discussions with providers, alongside literature on older people and elder mistreatment, neglect and abuse. This report informed our proposed future strategy (see below).

Proposed future strategy for MSD-funded elder abuse response services

MSD released a proposed future strategy for MSD-funded EARS, in December 2020, which focuses on:

  • Supporting older people to live abuse free
  • Serving the needs of an ageing population
  • Supporting providers to deliver best-practice services
  • Giving our regions support to deliver an integrated response
  • Recognising elder abuse services as a key family violence service.

The proposed strategy outlines the steps we’ll take to support change. As we strengthen and stabilise EARS, we will work to develop a future approach and practical next steps for integrating Te Pae Tata and Pacific Prosperity (the Māori and Pacific Actions Plans) into elder abuse services, ensuring that services reflect Māori and Pasifika world views.

Three core components - our direction

The proposed strategy includes three core components which represent the need for a holistic, dynamic and long-term approach to enable sustainable service change over the next three years:

  • Stabilise – focusses on applying transparent funding and improving contracting and reporting to build a strong foundation for services which can better meet the needs of older people who engage with the services. This includes testing the new evidence-based reporting prototype which was developed in 2019 following consultation with providers, family violence experts and older people. It also includes working with provides to identify ways to work together to support continuous improvement.
  • Strengthen – focusses on supporting capability building in the sector (including national hui and forums and training and education opportunities) and investment in Maori, Pacific and culturally diverse services.
  • Grow – focuses on increasing investment for medium-long term support, investing in social connectedness and community support, investing in prevention and awareness raising activities.

If you have any questions or feedback about our proposed direction, please email the team: Family_Violence_CPP@msd.govt.nz.

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