Caregivers given workshop on how to respond to senior abuse

Christopher Gooding
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AMHERST – Front line providers were given the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of senior abuse and, more importantly, start the communication process in the event they think something is wrong.

Healthcare professionals from Cumberland County were given a workshop on recognizing and responding to suspected elder abuse. The workshop, facilitated by Mount Saint Vincent and the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia, was brought to Amherst through Cumberland Health Authority’s Senior Safety Coordinator Heather Carter [not pictured].

Meeting at Furlong-Jones Funeral Home on Wednesday, 22 healthcare professionals from the local area participated in the fourth provincial pilot seminar of Vital Signs: Recognizing and Assessing Seniors at Risk or Experiencing Abuse.

Given a scenario, the group worked through the dialogue process and what to do. Each healthcare provider comes from a unique background and with it experience that plays a hand in how we see and interpret a scenario.

“There’s a range of professionals and a diverse group here,” said Maria Franks, executive director of the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia and workshop project lead. “Some are more aware of things that the other might notice; others might recognize sooner something that is problematic.”

It was through the legal society and the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging at Mount Saint Vincent University that the Nova Scotia Dept. of Seniors was able to present It’s In You Hands: Legal Information For Seniors and Their Families. That report was a step towards the community workshops. .

“The workshops are a result of consultation with seniors and professionals and a need for communication on how to address these situations. How do we start these conversation?”

In the case before the group here in Amherst was a fictitious scenario of financial abuse which, according to Mount Saint Vincent’s Pamela Fancey, is the most common form of senior abuse.

“Our attitudes towards seniors when they get older changes and financial abuse is too common,” Fancey said. “It’s not covered by provincial legislation. It comes under the Criminal Code, but it’s hard to proven. It can be a hidden abuse through a joint account to taking $20 from a purse or changing property titles.”

Many health professionals, including dentists and doctors, can be the first to learn of these abuses through casual conversation and having the skills to open the dialogue and how to properly act afterwards are the goals of the workshop.

For more information on legal information for seniors and their families, visit



Twitter: ADNchris

Organizations: Vital Signs, Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Centre on Aging Mount Saint Vincent University Nova Scotia Dept. of Seniors

Geographic location: Amherst, Saint Vincent

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