These Family Violence Intervention Guidelines: Elder abuse and neglect present a 6-step model for health care providers to use when identifying and responding to elder abuse. The guidelines are intended to be used by health care professionals to:
- assist them to identify elder abuse and neglect
- support and empower those experiencing elder abuse or neglect
- undertake preliminary risk assessment and safety planning
- determine appropriate referral options for coordinated intervention and follow-up.
The guidelines are a practical tool to help providers make safe and effective interventions that will assist those experiencing elder abuse or neglect. They have been written as a generic guideline,setting out principles of intervention that will apply to a variety of health professionals and a number of settings.
When we think about family violence, we usually think about physical violence, yet the experience of abuse impacts equally on mental, social and spiritual health. The Māori model of health,Te Whare Tapa Wha (Durie, 1994), is probably the most helpful in understanding the impact of abuse. Described simply, Te Whare Tapa Wha is made up of four dimensions:
- taha wairua (spiritual) – the capacity for faith and wider communion
- taha hinengaro (mental) – the capacity to communicate, think and feel
- taha tinana (physical) – the capacity for physical growth and development
- taha whānau (extended family) – the capacity to belong, share and to care.
All of these capacities are diminished by the experience of abuse and violence. Early identification and intervention is important to minimise damage to all these aspects of health.