IntroductionExecutive SummarySection 1Section 2Section 3Section 4Section 5

Section 2

Three goals to guide the way

Future Us Goals

This section will look in more detail at the three Future Us goals. Examples of practices and policies are listed under each of the goals.

All three goals can be understood as work that is already in progress in many parts of the country. This section provides suggestions for action that can contribute to further progress.

Goal 1

Prioritize prevention of elder abuse in every community

To achieve a pan-Canadian goal, ageism and elder abuse prevention must be priority issues for communities and governments across the country.

Prevention means:

  • Identifying and addressing ageism in policies and practices.
  • Taking steps to prevent elder abuse from happening through education.
  • Developing strategies to reduce social isolation.
  • Responding effectively as a system when violence or abuse has already occurred.

Ideally, each level of government will recognize the need to address and prevent elder abuse without prompting. When that doesn’t happen, community leaders and citizens can work to engage elected officials in their home ridings. Elder abuse is a non-partisan issue. Prevention is in everyone’s interest.

Primary prevention aims to prevent violence or abuse from happening in the first place.

Secondary prevention
works to reduce the impact of harm when violence or abuse has already occurred.

Tertiary prevention
focuses on reducing long-term impacts and consequences and preventing escalation for future occurrences.

We need direct services

Secondary and tertiary prevention require direct services in the community that provide support, assess, and manage risk to reduce harm, and coordinate services for existing situations of elder abuse.

There are few or no dedicated elder abuse services to support older people and families experiencing elder abuse in most communities across Canada. Funding for family violence may include elder abuse, however, the experience on the ground is that the resources go toward younger families.

Few professionals have specialized training to be able to recognize or respond to warning signs. Elder abuse remains even deeper in the shadows of the shadow pandemic of domestic violence.

Existing services are crisis-oriented and limited to the crisis. Provinces with adult protection laws such as New Brunswick, have developed services that are accessible and that can be comprehensive, but only after the crisis of violence has occurred.

In most of the country, violence against women, counselling, mental health and addiction services frequently have long waitlists for those who cannot afford to pay for services. As a society, we have few resources to support older people who are at risk, or who are experiencing elder abuse.

Every community needs direct services for older people that should include:

  • Trained professionals in social services, justice, and healthcare sectors who have expertise in elder abuse
  • Community coordination and case conferencing
  • Counselling and system navigation support for victims and family members
  • Risk management services that can work with those acting abusively, to reduce risk for future violence and abuse
  • Housing and healthcare support.

The chronic lack of direct services for families experiencing elder abuse reflects the real-world impacts of systemic ageism and the structural violence that ignores the needs of older people.

By 2037, the number of Canadian citizens 65 and older will have increased since 2017 by 68%. There is an urgent need to fund direct services in local communities to prevent and respond to elder abuse now. Every community can take stock of available services and work together to align resources and build capacity to address elder abuse. Governments have a responsibility to work together and invest in prevention that is concentrated on the health and well-being of older people.

How can we start on the path to prevention in my community?

Action

Set a local goal with a timeline to have your municipality identify elder abuse as a priority issue.

Policy example: The Ontario government implemented Community Safety and Well-being Plans in 2019. Municipalities were required to develop and adopt community safety and well-being plans, working in partnership with police services/boards and various other sectors, including health/mental health, education, community/social services, and children/youth services. In communities where elder abuse was not explicitly included in the plan, the policy provides an opportunity to advocate for inclusion of elder abuse.

Goal 2

Establish and support elder abuse prevention networks

This goal is directed to all levels of government, with a call to action to prioritize elder abuse and to build the infrastructure of networks with annualized funding to support their work.

What is an Elder Abuse Prevention Network?

Elder abuse prevention networks are composed of citizens and professionals from multiple sectors working together to address ageism and elder abuse in their communities. They are often volunteer-based, doing critical work, currently with little or no ongoing funding.

We have a lot to build on.

There are existing local and regional networks in 6 provinces and territories. Four regional networks are funded annually by provincial/territorial governments. Local networks are groups of volunteers doing the ongoing work to educate and engage their communities.

The Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA) currently operates without sustained funding, dependent on project work. As the lead for dissemination of Future Us, CNPEA is already set up to serve as the backbone organization, connecting all networks across the country.

Expecting volunteers to do this work to address complex, systemic issues is an example of ageism in action. Every community needs a dedicated, funded network to hold the focus on ageism and elder abuse, doing the long-term change work on the issues in their community. There is still a huge role for volunteers but with better support.

Infrastructure Networks

An infrastructure of networks allows information to flow up, down, and across

What can Elder Abuse Networks do?

Funded, formalized networks:

  • Deliver public education – from tailored, community-specific programs to pan-Canadian tested materials, to build skill and achieve consistent learning outcomes across the country.
  • Enhance community coordination – networks do not provide direct service, but they can convene service providers working across sectors on prevention and response to ensure a coordinated community response.
  • Participate in knowledge sharing / mobilization – the Canadian Network can serve as the backbone organization that connects through provinces and territories to move and share knowledge up, down and across the system. An important resource for communities and governments.
  • Contribute ideas, experience, and innovations at regional and federal network tables about how to advance the pan-Canadian goals.
  • Support collective action on national priorities by learning to pull together on common goals for meaningful impact at the local level.

What is already in place?

  • Eight provincial and territorial governments have already identified abuse and neglect of older adults as a priority issue since 2000.
  • Each has an elder abuse strategy and has directed some resources toward the identified issues.
  • There are six established provincial and territorial elder abuse prevention networks.
  • In Québec, the government funds regional coordinators to support community coordination and engagement.
  • Four have varied amounts of annualized funding from provincial/territorial governments.

Existing networks:

British Columbia Association of Community Response Networks (BC CRN): bccrns.ca
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council (AEAAC): albertaelderabuse.ca
Prevent Elder Abuse Manitoba (PEAM): preventelderabusemanitoba.wildapricot.org
Northwest Territories Network (NWT Network): nwtnetwork.com
Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario (EAPO): eapon.ca
SeniorsNL: seniorsnl.ca

Map of Canada

Yukon

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

NFLD & Lab

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

British Columbia

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

PEI

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Alberta

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Saskatchewan

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

NWT

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Nunavut

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Manitoba

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Ontario

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Quebec

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

New Brunswick

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Nova Scotia

  • EA Strategy
  • Provincial network
  • Annualized funding

Pan-Canadian Starting Point

  • 8 Provinces-Territories have an EA Strategy
  • 6 Provinces-Territories have a P-T Network
  • 4 P-T Networks have annualized funding

A big idea: cost-share funding for networks across Canada

Cost-sharing is a way to build the connectivity between jurisdictions. Engaging every province and territory makes it pan-Canadian. Matching incentives from the federal government could flow to provincial/territorial governments who in turn, flow funds to municipal governments.

Incentives acknowledge the shared responsibility and non-partisanship needed, in service to the greater public good. This approach will sustain the momentum across election cycles and changes in government. It will result in ongoing learning and development that can inform decision-makers at all levels of government.

Draft estimates show the cost-effectiveness for a comprehensive plan of action that moves us as a society toward the prevention and early intervention of elder abuse. The Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse can serve as the backbone organization for the system, supporting the provincial / territorial networks that in turn support local networks.

  • $9.5M annual investment by the federal government
  • $3M core funding for Canadian Network - $6.5M for incentives to P/T governments
  • $2.5M annual investment by provincial/territorial governments
  • $700K core funding for P/T network - $30K for 60 local communities
  • $30K annual investment by municipal governments
  • Core funding for local network

Example

The British Columbia government currently provides $1.3M / year in an envelope of funding to the BC CRN that decides how best to use the funding to support a coordinated community response.

Annualized funding has allowed the network to become well established and highly effective over the last ten years. BC CRN continues to grow and in March 2022, includes 81 community response networks serving 233 communities.

The Alberta government is funding a project through the provincial elder abuse council (AEAAC) to pilot case managers in Albertan communities. If the project proves successful, case management could be attached to the work of local networks as part of the coordinated community response model.

Goal 3

Teach Everyone

This goal is directed to all levels of government, with a call to action to prioritize elder abuse and to build the infrastructure of networks with annualized funding to support their work.

Teach everyone to:

  • Recognize warning signs of elder abuse and indications of increasing risk
  • Respond safely and effectively
  • Refer to find help and support

The goal to “teach everyone” builds on the second goal and is a primary activity of the elder abuse prevention networks. Education is critical. Bystanders often do not respond in helpful ways because they are not sure what to do.

Research into domestic homicides has shown that it is the neighbours, friends, family members and coworkers who are the bystanders closest to the family experiencing violence. They know that violence and abuse is happening but don’t know what to do about it. Preparing the general public to recognize-respond-refer can lead to early intervention and support.

There is some urgency. Recent years have seen an uptick in homicides by spouses and family members that involve older people. Older women are most often the victim of homicide by male family members.

Example

The Ontario government provides annualized funding to Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario (EAPO), the provincial network mandated to implement Ontario’s Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse.

EAPO delivers educational programs, training, and information about elder abuse. They also develop resources and support the coordination of community services.

Resources

It’s Not Right! Neighbours, Friends and Families for Older Adults (INR) is a pan-Canadian public education campaign that has been funded by the federal government, piloted in every province and territory.

In provinces where there are funded elder abuse networks, the work of educating and engaging all citizens is ongoing. All funded networks are using the It’s Not Right! resources.

An older woman speaking into a megaphone
A hand putting the final piece into a puzzle.

Potential future work:

  • Expand It’s Not Right! materials for diverse audiences
  • Develop professional curriculum to recognize-respond-refer
  • Develop a companion pan-Canadian ageism campaign

Goals give purpose and direction

The three pan-Canadian goals create a shared horizon for prevention and response. Common goals allow for local and regional distinctions and acknowledge that we are starting this journey from different places and at different points of development. It is no less a shared journey. Achieving collective impact that leads to prevention of elder abuse will take slow and steady progress with sustained investments over time.

Action

Find your allies and stay connected with your local/ provincial network and with the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

Tell us about your experiences, challenges and achievements.

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