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Financial Counselling | Irene’s Story

Friday 3 November 2017

Irene’s Story

Elder abuse can come in the form of financial exploitation. As one of the fastest growing forms of abuse** it is often difficult for the older person to seek help as it is often perpetuated by a person in a position of trust, such as a family member or a caregiver, thus enhancing the position of vulnerability in a difficult power dynamic.

If the abuser is a family member, there can be a reluctance to report the member for fear of breaking family ties.

Irene*, 93, Widow
Adrian, 52, Irene’s son
Mary, 58, Irene’s friend

Living in an aged care facility that she felt was unsuitable for her needs

Was referred to Better Place Australia Respecting Elders Support and Conflict Resolution service through her friend, Mary

Scenario

Mary approached Better Place Australia on behalf of Irene. Irene had been moved to an aged care facility and wasn’t happy.

Irene’s family were advised by the mental health service to place her in her current facility.  

Irene felt she had not been adequately supported and felt coerced. She was not managing well where she was and needed more support.

Staff at the facility were also blocking visitor access to her at the request of her son Adrian.

There was conflict in the family with Irene estranged from her son, who had power of attorney to make medical, financial and lifestyle decisions on her behalf. He had been instrumental in facilitating her move.

Her attempts to communicate with Adrian had been unsuccessful as he was non-responsive to her wishes.

Irene feels that she had made a mistake in moving and wanted to return to her previous hostel accommodation.

Process

Consultation
A Better Place Australia Family Consultant made contact with Irene to establish the issues and identify the next steps.

Irene expressed distress and helplessness at having been placed in her current facility against her wishes by Adrian, without fully consulting with her.

Irene has a hearing and vision impairment that does not affect her day-to-day functioning or her mental capacity.  

Advocacy
Better Place Australia made contact with the relevant parties: Adrian, the aged care facility, and the advising mental health service team, to advocate on Irene’s behalf: Both Adrian and the mental health team were reluctant to provide information.

It was established that there was an ongoing conflict between the parties which was detrimental to Irene’s mental health and well-being.

Better Place Australia consulted with Irene’s previous hostel facility on whether it would be appropriate she returns.

Coaching
Throughout the entire process, Irene was consulted. Multiple sessions improved her confidence and courage to speak for herself and express her wishes.

Family Meeting
Irene was able to work together with Adrian in a family meeting facilitated by the family consultant to resolve their conflict and clarify the issue of power of attorney through continuous communication.

Outcome
With the help of the family consultant, Irene was empowered to self-advocate to her current facility in making her case to return to her previous accommodation. Irene moved back to the hotel she had previously lived in.

Impact

  • Irene has moved back to her facility of choice. Her health and outlook in life has improved significantly as a result.
  • Irene and Adrian were able to mend their differences. They now see each other regularly. Irene has further reengaged with her grandchildren and extended family.
  • With the power of attorney issue clarified, Adrian now manages Irene’s finances in consultation with her.
  • Working with the family consultant gave Irene the skills and knowledge to interact with those around her confidently.
  • Irene is empowered to express her wishes clearly to those around her.

*Name have been changed for privacy reasons

** Older People and the Law, Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs, Inquiry into Older People and the Law.
http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/LACA/olderpeople/report.htm p15

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