Can Specialised Family Mediation Prevent Elder Abuse in Australia?
Ian Fletcher (Grad Diploma, Mediation UQ)
Mediator, Pos...
e) Training in the area has particular requirements that differ from other FDR areas.
2. The strongest rationale for elder...
The social and economic costs of elder abuse are large. Unfortunately one outcome of abuse is
hospitalisation. $3,622 is t...
government is creating an Elder Abuse Hotline, community training, websites and other actions to
address elder abuse. Posi...
b) financial issues and tasks to be shared
c) the development of a plan specifically catered to the needs and wants of the...
2003) and may connect into community assistance. Butterworth (undated) is correct in saying that
‘Mediation is at its most...
Continuing with the Canadian experience,an experienced trained family mediator seeking certification
requires a minimum of...
A certification process in Australia seems a remote -as no existing training program exists for those
interested. It would...
Carroll, R and Smith, A. 2010, Mediation in Guardianship Proceedings for the Elderly: An Australian
Perspective, Windsor Y...
Victorian Government Department of Human Services, 2009, With respect to age — 2009 Victorian
Government practice guidelin...
Appendix 1
Stories of Abuse
It is important when looking at the costs and statistics presented in this report to remember ...
Appendix 2
Competencies recognised for Elder Mediation by the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, Report on
Elder and Guardians...
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Preventing Elder Abuse Fletcher

Presentation from the 2012 National Mediation Conference Australia
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Published in: Presentations & Public Speaking      

Transcripts - Preventing Elder Abuse Fletcher

  • 1. Can Specialised Family Mediation Prevent Elder Abuse in Australia? Ian Fletcher (Grad Diploma, Mediation UQ) Mediator, Positive Solutions Tasmania Key words – elder mediation, elder abuse, Family Dispute Resolution, Training, Key findings addressed by this work are that: a) Elder abuse is the driver for the need of elder mediation as a family dispute resolution (FDR) specialisation. b) Elder mediation is rarely used in Australia c) Existing Family mediators require further competencies for Elder mediation specialisation. d) Current funding for FDR should include mediation elders for those who are considered vulnerable or unable to fund themselves. Elder mediation is defined here as a mediation process used to improve the wellbeing of individuals, families and society in areas that are characteristic of issues that arise for the elderly. This definition serves to provide elder mediation skills to other persons who are not elderly. For example, anybody regardless of age facing terminal illness in need of support. Other definitions include; ‘the provision of mediation services to assist with conflict, or minimization of potential conflict, with elderly adults and their carers, particularly family members. Elder mediation is also termed as eldercare mediation or caregiver mediation’ (Bertschler and Cocklin 2004). 1. Elder mediation as an area of Family Dispute Resolution: Elder mediation has many of the characteristics of the mediation processes that are provided by organisations around child care, restorative justice, care of adults with disabilities, mental health issues or separation. Family mediation will assist with conflict issues throughout life. Elder mediation focuses on the end phases of life, notably loss of work, health and life itself. It is more appropriate to use the term Family Dispute Resolution for Elders, or FDR for elders, - if that is the target group - rather than define a new category of ADR. While care of aging parents is largely the responsibility of families (Wall and Spira 2012), elder mediation skills will assist others, particularly younger people facing illness, care dependency or death. Recently the Canadian Elder Mediation group, leaders in elder mediation, moved to join Family Mediation Canada ( ). It would seem appropriate that any Australian group should be similarly positioned. The Canadian elder mediation group are leaders in their field because they have a detailed training program and a certification process for elder mediators. They also initiated the International Elder Mediation Conference, with the 5th being held in Scotland this year. It seems clear that while elder mediation is a subsection of family mediation, it does need differentiation because: a) The elderly are seen as particular subset of society. b) Issues of the elderly are often characteristic (though not exclusively) of that group. These include retirement, aged care, terminal illness care, illnesses typical of ageing, economic issues of superannuation and pensions, wills and estates, and death. c) Government legislation, funding and programs are often directed at this group. This includes legislation such as the Commonwealth Government Aged Care Act 1997. d) The term is widely used in international literature.
  • 2. e) Training in the area has particular requirements that differ from other FDR areas. 2. The strongest rationale for elder mediation provision in Australia comes from the issue of elder abuse. The problem of elder abuse experienced in Australia is the strongest motivation for the development and certification of elder mediation services. It is therefore important to examine the hypothesis that; a) elder mediation can prevent and alleviate elder abuse, b) elder mediation can do that in a socially responsible and cost -efficient manner. c) elder mediation in resolving conflict create stronger family relationships and mental health outcomes, further improving salutogenesis [wellness] (Becker 2007). The Australian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse used the following definition for elder abuse: “any act occurring within a relationship where there is an implication of trust, which results in harm to an older person. Abuse can include physical, sexual, financial, psychological, social and neglect (Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, undated). The World Health Organisation uses a similar definition (Dow 2009). The surprise in this definition it that abuse in nursing homes and hospitals is excluded. It also excluded self-neglect, abuse by strangers such as street violence, household theft and internet fraud. This definition is unfortunate because the occasional nursing home abuse cases receive strong publicity, and if they were grouped togetherelder abuse may be more acknowledged in society. Many sources see elder abuse as part of a continuum. In an Australian prevention review Janelle Budd (2010 p5) describes this: ‘The concept of a continuum will be used frequently within this report to represent not only the form and severity of abuse experienced but also the development, implementation and goals of intervention strategies. In applying this concept to situations of elder abuse, healthy, respectful relationships with the potential for abuse can be placed at the starting point. Moving along the continuum relationships that encompass verbal threats, psychological, emotional and some forms of financial abuse will be in the middle ground, depending on their severity. The critical end of the continuum may be the result of years of mistreatment and harm, which can include frequent and intense forms of psychological, emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, social and/or financial abuse and neglect. At the critical end of the continuum the abuse can be classified as criminal behaviour’. A graphical representation (Attorney-General 2009) of this concept is applicable for elder conflict (Figure 3.1). This graph indicates that a procession of actions is likely to be required, that costs differ and courts becomes the final regulator. Mediation is important around the point where the situation may become critical (Bagshaw in Budd 2003), before the crisis management services including Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT), Advocacy Organisation, Mental Health Services, Public Advocates and Guardianship Tribunals and police, hospitals and sexual and domestic violence groups become involved.
  • 3. The social and economic costs of elder abuse are large. Unfortunately one outcome of abuse is hospitalisation. $3,622 is the estimated cost of interpersonal violence for each admission for those aged 60 and over (Meuleners, Hendrie and Lee (2008) in Jackson 2009). While the elderly may fear being mugged, robbed or having their homes broken into,, financial abuse by trusted people is more likely than the cumulative likelihood of any of those feared events occurring (Stterlund, Tilse and Wilson 1999). The average value of the alleged abuse from one Queensland reporting hotline was $242,287 per person (Jackson 2009). Social health gains from the use of elder mediation appears not to have been researched, however more responsible family interactions that respect rights, share workload and increase care-giving are a likely outcome (Mitchell 2003). The focus is on the repair “of historical interpersonal struggles, current conflicts that impede decision making, and assistance increating strategies to prevent future entanglements among family members even beyond the death of older members” (Wall and Spira 2012). Mediated outcomes act to promote emotional, cognitive and social wellbeing or salutogenesis ( see Parker and Pattenden 2009, Becker 2007). These then form the rationale for mediation as an important tool for prevention of elder abuse. The final critical data is the frequency of elder abuse occurring in our society. The author’s initial motivation for examination of FDR in elder abuse cases came from ann editorial in the Hobart daily paper that stated “Between 3,000 and 12,000 elderly Tasmanian’s are abused annually according to Elder Abuse Prevention Association executive director Lillian Jester” (editorial Mercury 2006). Tasmania has about 2% of Australia’s population. While the numbers are important, understanding the human cost is both disturbing and motivational. Appendix 1 lists some representative examples reported to the EAPU in Queensland. 3. Elder mediation is rarely used in Australia Investigations a few years ago indicated that only one Australian mediation service included a program specifically aimed at Elder Mediation ,this being Positive Solutions in Tasmania, my current employer. Despite promotion of this service it was not taken up by the community at that time (2006), or since. Positive Solutions continues to list Elder mediation on its website without drawing more than an occasional client (Street, C. personal communication 2012). The program has not been promoted since inception until this year when external factors have provided impetus. The Tasmanian State
  • 4. government is creating an Elder Abuse Hotline, community training, websites and other actions to address elder abuse. Positive Solutions is keen that mediation is counted among a variety of potential actions. Causes for this program’s failure are unclear. Certainly, the issue of both elder abuse and many other elderly focused family conflicts exist. It seems the community has developed other ways of dealing with these problems. These may include using other community services, using legal processes or resolving them privately within families. However it also includes putting them in the ‘too -hard basket’ and not resolving the conflict. Unfortunately, this may destroy relationships, allow bad decisions to continue or allow abuse to occur. It is reasonable that specialist FDR services may improve outcomes, costs, stress, and decrease abuse of the elderly. Clearly review is needed and David Moore (personal communication 2010) has suggested the following: a) What general principles (and altered terminology/ language) might attract potential clients? (i.e. How do we “market” this?); b) What experience might inform program guidelines at Positive solutions? (i.e. What are a likely set of intake questions for the program?); c) What modifications to the format of the process might be required to suit the types of cases presenting? Reviewing documented successful programs worldwide indicates that many fail. Those that are ultimately successful often seem to have necessitated a review and restructure process. This occurred in the University of Windsor Program (Smyth 2011) and in the Waterloo program (Barn and Linden 2011). The negative experience in the Waterloo Elder mediation program was that: ‘The original elder abuse project was highly focused on the use of healing circles to help restore the relationships that had been broken by elder abuse. This philosophy seemed viable and helped to attract a broad range of community partners. It also gave the program a national profile in Canada. However, while this project had many significant accomplishments, the circle component was not as successful as the organizers had hoped it would be. There were fewer referrals to the program than expected, and few of the circles were successfully completed. Following the review the outcome was that: ’the police would handle complaints of physical and financial abuse, hospitals would treat abuse victims, and home care workers would try to help when they suspected that clients had been abused. However, the strength of the elder abuse project was to recognize that older adults would benefit if the community developed a system for dealing with elder abuse that involved a wide variety of agencies and organizations working together to coordinate their efforts. The modern dispute resolution systems discussed above have multiple points of entry for cases and multiple options for conflict resolution and also place a major emphasis on the role of education in preventing and managing conflict. (Barn and Linden 2011 p144) The drive for the establishment of Elder Mediation at Hobart FRC was based around elder abuse however .It is also clear that others also benefit from these services. Janette Mitchell, founder of Eldercare Mediation (2003) reports forty percent of adult children report serious conflict with a sibling around the issue of care of their parent care. Her conclusion is that good solutions come from good conversations at a time without crisis. She highlights the point of planning, and recommends use of an experienced mediator in the field. However, most families do not avail themselves of this and conflict arises at crisis points. The early planning method allows for: a) the parent to maintain their dignity and autonomy
  • 5. b) financial issues and tasks to be shared c) the development of a plan specifically catered to the needs and wants of the individual. She cites the lack of this is the cause of most elder conflict. d) the use of a mediator to assist in obstacles being “overcome” and e) the improvement of family relationships (Mitchell 2003 p2). It is possible that elder mediation may not become important unless there is a legislated requirement for it to be considered and used where appropriate. This has been suggested in a review in WA of elder abuse that included the recommendation of: ‘the use of a form of family mediation service when appropriate as early statutory intervention.’ (Clare and Blundell 2011,p.96). On the opposite side a, review by the Queensland Law Society (2011) did not mention mediation among its recommendations. Also, surprisingly, Victoria’s comprehensive guidelines also do not mention mediation despite starting the document with a quote from the World Health Organisation: ‘Confronting and reducing elder abuse requires a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach’ (Victorian Government Department of Human Services 2009). 4. A little on the nature of Elder Abuse and options of ‘treatment’ that exist. The author has had many discussions with people of his generation (50’s) that have experienced difficulties with siblings in making decisions with or about their parents. Many of these discussions concern gender. Women are more likely to be responsible for their relatives than men but they are likely to have fewer financial resources. The common case is of a mother who is simultaneously caring for her mother and her children (the “sandwich mother”) while possibly holding down some lower -paid employment. It is easy to see financial abuse or neglect could occur here – despite the attempts of many services to provide assistance. Another common story is that the children, generally males, often interstate, want parent’s’ assets to be sold and for her/him to be moved into a nursing home. Wills are also changed by one adult child without discussion with other siblings. Financial considerations are well described following extensive Australian research (Tilse, Wilson Setterlund and Roseenman 2005). In another paper Setterlund, Tilse and Wilson (1999) note that normal protections such as guardianships are often abused and state that in America the most abused legal document is the Power of Attorney. Elder abuse may occur in three ways. Abuse may be deliberate and recognised as wrong by the abuser. I suspect this is a minority, but may be a majority in cases of financial abuse. Secondly, abuse may be not recognised as such, such as where the abuse is seen as appropriate action. Examples may be tying a person to a chair to prevent self harm, not getting medical advice, not allowing contact with friends, using the elder’s assets as part of household finance. Thirdly, abuse may be known to not be a correct or ideal action, but alternatives are not apparent. Examples include the single mother who is caring for children, her mother and working part time, and neglect occurs due to time and financial pressures. For the last two categories, and I suspect this may be the majority of cases, broad interactive actions including information, education, community services assistance, changed social norms and community involvement would assist in prevention. Many may see the last two categories as ‘ageism’ (Mariani 2007), and few would want to prosecute, provided appropriate action to remedy the situation occurred. FDR is perfectly placed to assist in these areas and could also be judiciously used as part of a legal process in the deliberate abuse cases as a court -based mediation. As stated above a relationship that is on the borderline not being abusive to being abusive occurs gradually and hence difficult to define. Intervention that may be directive or punitive at this stage may damage rather than improve relationships (Zeranski and Richard 2011). Cooperative family actions seem appropriate, generally resulting in improved planning, and sharing of responsibilities (Mitchell
  • 6. 2003) and may connect into community assistance. Butterworth (undated) is correct in saying that ‘Mediation is at its most useful and compelling when it is simple, easy, time efficient, inexpensive, and prompt. There's no need for a formal setting, no need for a particular format, no discovery, no testimony, no one under oath. All mediation needs is a valid dispute, people interested in resolving the dispute, and a neutral third party to direct these efforts’. However elder mediations that do involve very complex issues have also been highly successful and the process with experience and skilled mediators is a strong option (Smyth 2011, Barn and Linden 2011). The author is currently working on the important question. From an elder abuse referral point of view, what factors indicate that elder mediation is, or is not, appropriate? Assistance is appreciated, please email. 5. Training and Certification of Elder Mediators Elder mediators may enter the area from four likely areas: existing family mediators, those skilled in eldercare, those from a legal background, and those from the social work sector. Training for these groups is likely to differ. Here I am only looking at family mediators becoming elder mediators. The general philosophy for training presented is for a holistic or family-centred process. Wall and Spira (2012 page 286) require : ‘that they [elder mediators] are educated into the perspective that the “whole family” is the client, not just the older members. Using a family centred approach, the family system as opposed to targeted individuals becomes the focus for interventions. Individuals are viewed within a familial context and it is recognized that all of their concerns have an impact on the other members of the social group’. The mediation type for elder mediation is an interesting discussion. Some have prioritised a transformative model as most appropriate (Wall andSpira 2012) and many endorse the facilitative model. A rights-based mediation seems to have been used by some where the issues approach or include criminal activity. The following statement seems correct: ‘Historically the mediation literature has formed mediator styles into different categories, with strong argument being made by some experts that the interest-based or facilitative model is to be preferred. However, more recent literature has suggested that mediators generally use a range of different styles in their work and that typecasting into rigid categories is not useful - that mediators commonly borrow techniques from different styles.’ (Canadian Centre for Elder Law, 2012 page 12) It seems the more pressing questions currently under evaluation are if elder mediation should be: a) mandatory in some situations? b) government funded or government supported? c) driven by statutory requirement for mediation consideration? d) controlled by government regulation, and if so by a family or legal services. A certification process of elder mediators seems rare. Elder mediation Canada has a system in place and aims to having certified people in each province. They cite that the need for certification is driven by the need of referrers. This is because the police, hospitals, doctors and others need to be able to find “qualified, informed professionals who adhere to a standard”, (Elder Mediation Canada 1012).International accreditation is also possible in three languagesas accessed via the Elder Mediation Canada website.
  • 7. Continuing with the Canadian experience,an experienced trained family mediator seeking certification requires a minimum of 100 hours of additional age-related elder family mediation training. (Canadian Centre for Elder Law, 2012) This is made up of: a) At least 14 hours of elder abuse training b) At least 7 hours of training in power imbalance c) At least 7 hours of family and elder law training d) At least 7 hours training in drafting memoranda of understanding e) Understanding dynamics of normal aging, family relationships and intergenerationaldynamics f) Understandingdynamics of grief and loss g) Understanding Ageism h) Understanding community support services for older adults and their families i) Understanding guardianship j) Understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other progressive dementias and chronic diseases k) Understanding legal issues related to health decision making and powers of attorney l) Understanding ethical issues relating to the mediation process m) Understanding culture and aging n) Additional training in cultural understanding that promotes awareness,acceptance of and respect for cultural values and beliefs o) Annual ongoing education to ensure that mediation skills are current andeffective. The publication by the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, (2012) devotes a chapter to elder mediation training which is comprehensive and descriptive. The report describes the US to be the historic leader in elder mediation training where most courses [by internet search] seem to be based on 2-3 day training without any national certification. Ethical issues are profound for elder mediation. This is highlighted by the statement that in the terminal phase of life, hospital care is more about ethics than it is about medical treatment (B Wilson, personal communication 2012). Many mediators are competent with to ethical issues concerning children but elder ethics differ. For example an elderly person with capacity may choose to stay in a situation of abuse. Once again the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, (2012) publication is comprehensive with a chapter on elder mediation ethics. The key areas identified are: a) Power Imbalances, Safety and Screening b) Mediator Impartiality and Neutrality. c) Self-determination and Capacity d) Representation and Accommodation e) Confidentiality f) Abuse and Neglect. g) Mediator Competence and h) Who Is At the Table? There are a few texts on elder mediation specifically (Mitchell 2003,Bertshler and Cocklin2004, Bertschler and Bertschler 2009, Larsen et al. 2011) and others on conflict management in elders. I have found them useful, generalist texts appropriate for interested mediators and families facing difficulties. Reporting on work in the area is the Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect. The number of journal articles is increasing in number and specialisation of topic. For example, research by Gaalen and Dykstra (2006) is more detailed and focused for a mediator. They found the nature of the relationship between the aged parent and adult child is not a determinate of the likelihood of conflict. . Undoubtedly, the most useful publication for the author thus far is by the Canadian Centre for Elder Law report (2012).
  • 8. A certification process in Australia seems a remote -as no existing training program exists for those interested. It would seem useful for a university based provider to develop a course that could test demand. I would hope that undertaking this would then allow existing FDRP to become competent elder mediators. Book me in, please. Alternatively, if legislation was to occur in a State that requires elder mediation to be used, then a responsibility exists to specify who can provide that mediation. This could be stated as being a practicing FDRP, and many practioners are likely to have good understanding of aged sector issues. Some of us live in it! 6. Current funding for family mediation should encompass elder mediation Here lies compliment, complaint and request. The Family Relationships centres and other funded bodies were set up to improve family relationships. This has produced a highly skilled group of family mediators and advanced mediation in the Australian context. However their funding guidelines do not allow mediation for elders. I urge you to ask your organisation to ask the Attorney General that this restriction be lifted to include families in all stages of life not just “post-separation’. 7. Concluding If only for the sake of the elder abuse victims in society, the majority of who are women and frequently poor, we need to develop a skilled accredited elder mediation group. We need provision of funding or means tested subsidisation to fund elder mediation. Elder mediation provides a social benefit to society and in all probability, a direct cost benefit via reduced hospital and aged care outlay. Elder mediators need to be able to clearly articulate what defines a situation where mediation could or should occur. This has not been sufficiently addressed in this work and is flagged as a priority. We need to develop a culture where pre-planning for the elder care is taken as a routine part of family life. Ideallyit is a plan written as agreed by the elderly person with key family members. The general aim is to identify goals, to share the financial load and to find community support while individual specificl issues are also addressed. In this we have a model to improve relationships and promote mental health that acts to prevent future family crisis or elder abuse occurring. 8. References Attorney-General, 2009, A Strategic framework for access to justice in the federal civil justice system, Report by the Access to Justice Taskforce Attorney-General’s Department, Sept 2009, Canberra. Barn,A. and Linden, R. 2011, Addressing Elder Abuse: The Waterloo Restorative Justice Approach to Elder Abuse Project, Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 23:2, 127-146. Becker, Craig. (2007) Salutogenesis: A guide for wellness programs in the 21st Century.National Wellness Institute Member Newsletter, vol 31 (3) p 2-3. Retrieved 6-10-09 Bertschler, J. and Bertschler, P. 2009, Elder Mediation: A New Solution to Age-Old Problems, NCS Publishing, USA. Bertshler, P. and Cocklin, L. 2004, Truce; using elder mediation to resolve conflict among families, Seniors and Organizations .Kearny, Morris Publishing. Budd, J. 2010, Prevention of Elder Abuse Project, accessed 24-6-12 at – Butterworth,F. undated, accessed 12/7/12 in
  • 9. Carroll, R and Smith, A. 2010, Mediation in Guardianship Proceedings for the Elderly: An Australian Perspective, Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 28, No. 1, p. 53, 2010. Canadian Centre for Elder Law, 2012, Report on Elder and Guardianship Report No. 5. Accessed on 20/7/12 at SSRN: Clare, M. Blundell B. 2011, Examination Of The Extent Of Elder Abuse In Western Australia, accessed March 2012 from Davies, M., Harries, P., Gilhooly, K. and Gilhooly, M. 2011, Decision Making in Relation to Financial Elder Abuse: A Review of the Literature on Decision Making and Judgment Analysis. Working Paper 2, NDA Project: Detecting and Preventing Financial Abuse of Older Adults Series Editor: M Gilhooly, Brunel Institute for Ageing Studies: Brunel University. Dow, B. 2009, What is elder abuse?The National Ageing ResearchInstitute, NARI Seminar 6th October 2009. Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, undated, Overview of Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, Fact Sheet 2, accessed 13-6-07 at Elder Mediation Canada, undated, accessed 16/6/1012 Gaalen, R. and Dykstra, P. 2006, Solidarity and Conflict between Adult Children and Parents: A Latent Class Analysis, Journal of Marriage and Family, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 947–960. Jackson, L. 2009, The cost of elder abuse in Queensland: who pays and how much, Elder Abuse Prevention Unit – Qld, June. Larsen, R., Kardasis, A., Thorpe, C. And Trippe, B. 2011, Mom Always Liked You Best: A Guide for Resolving Family Feuds, Inheritance Battles and Eldercare Crises Agreements Resources USA Mercury 2006, Protect the elderly from harm, Editorial 24th April 2006, p 5. Mitchell, J. 2003, Eldercare Mediation: A new way to make decisions regarding aging parents, accessed 2008 at Parker, R. and Pattenden, R. 2009, Strengthening and repairing relationships: addressing forgiveness and sacrifice in couples education and counselling. Australian Family Relationship Clearinghouse, ARFC Briefing 13. Queensland Law Society, 2011, Joint issues paper: elder abuse, accessed 21-7-12 at Tilse, C., Wilson, J., Stterlund, D. and Roseenman, L. 2005, Older peoples Assets: a contested site, Australasian Journal on Ageing, Vol 24, Supplement June 2005 pS51-S56. Setterlund, D., Tilse, C. and Wilson, J. 1999, Substitute Decision making and Older people, Australian Institute of Criminology, Paper 139, sourced at Smyth, G. 2011, Mediation in Cases of Elder Abuse and Mistreatment: The Case of University of Windsor Mediation Services. Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, Vol. 30, p. 121. Tasmanian Government, 2010, Protecting Older Tasmanians from Abuse, Department of Health and Human Services,: accessed 6/7/12 at
  • 10. Victorian Government Department of Human Services, 2009, With respect to age — 2009 Victorian Government practice guidelines for health services and community agencies for the prevention of elder abuse, accessed 21/7/12 at Wall, J. andSpira, M. 2012, A Conceptual Framework for Differential Use of Mediation and Family Therapy Interventions With Older Adults and Their Families, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, Volume 55, Issue 3 pp 282-297. Zeranski L. and Halgin R. 2011, Ethical Issues in Elder Abuse Reporting: A Professional Psychologist’s Guide, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp 294–300.
  • 11. Appendix 1 Stories of Abuse It is important when looking at the costs and statistics presented in this report to remember the human costs involved as the statistics represent individual stories of abuse and distress, mostly of older women, mostly aged between 75 and 85. Some of the stories from the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit’s (EAPU) Helpline for the 2007/08 year included: • The 73 year old woman whose daughter returned home for a while after a relationship breakdown and ran up a $300 phone bill which the mother can’t afford to repay on the pension and can’t get the daughter to pay. • The 52 year old son who sold the family home for $870k through the misuse of an enduring power of attorney forcing the mother, who is showing early signs of dementia, to move in with her daughter. • The grandson who moved in with his ill grandmother with an arrangement to provide some care for free board. He now has lots of friends over for parties where damage has been done to carpets and walls. The woman is very scared of her grandson who has started verbally abusing her – she locks herself in her bedroom most of the time. • The daughter-in-law who regularly took her mother-in-law’s pension money to gamble and buy alcohol even though the older woman is looking after the daughter-in-law’s children. • The 72 year old woman who sold everything to build a granny flat at her son’s house only to now find herself in a fight with the son and his wife but unable to sell up as she doesn’t have a separate title to the granny flat. • The older man who is too scared to evict his 50 year old alcoholic son because he has bashed him before. • The parents who loaned their son $1,500 to pay off a credit card debt but now the son says he won’t repay, claiming it was a gift.
  • 12. Appendix 2 Competencies recognised for Elder Mediation by the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, Report on Elder and Guardianship Mediation in 2012 page 91. a) Knowledge of family dynamics and intergenerational issues b) Knowledge and understanding of power imbalance in mediation and strategies foridentifying and neutralizing power imbalance c) Understanding the aging process (mental and physical aspects of aging plus myths ofaging) d) Knowledge related to end of life care options e) Understanding the dynamics of grief and loss f) Understanding and awareness of ethics, values and principles (impartiality, self-determination, quality of process, power imbalances, ageism, mediator competence,mediating in cases of abuse and neglect, confidentiality) g) Awareness of ethical issues that may arise in elder and guardianship mediation andstrategies for addressing them h) Knowledge and understanding of the pre-mediation interview process and skills andexperience in non-evaluative mediation practice i) Knowledge and skills for multi-party, complex mediation (including how to assesswho should participate in mediation) j) Knowledge and understanding of the roles of participants in mediation, including therole of the mediator k) Knowledge and understanding of relevant legal processes and procedures, legislative frameworks, and agreement writing l) Knowledge and understanding of the importance of self-determination andmaximum participation of parties in mediation – in particular, how to ensure thevoice of the older person is included in mediation m) Knowledge of accommodation strategies – how to accommodate the particularneeds of parties in mediation in order to ensure maximum participation n) Solid understanding of elder abuse and neglect – including the dynamics of abuseand how to detect abuse o) Understanding capacity issues and strategies for assessing the capacity of parties tomediate p) Knowledge and skills for multi-party, complex mediation (including how to assesswho should participate in mediation) q) Cultural diversity and values – including an awareness of language, family values andsocial norms, gender roles, and who makes decisions and how decisions are made r) Knowledge and understanding of relevant health care issues s) Knowledge of community resources t) Recognizing legal and other issues outside one’s competence as mediator – when to u) refer to other professionals or resources v) Knowledge of strategies for determining whether or not a matter is appropriate formediation and when to terminate mediation w) Understanding of the role of the mediator in guardianship mediation x) Simulated and role-playing mediation

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