It’s ‘open season’ on the elderly when it comes to caregiver financial grooming and abuse in New Zealand.
In fact, I have discovered that when it comes to protecting the interests of the elderly, there really isn’t any protection at all for this most vulnerable population.
I have been spending some time reviewing what protective factors exist in the aged care industry, when it comes to guarding against the possibility of vulnerable elderly being exploited by state-funded or private in-home caregivers.
It turns out that the agencies that are charged with helping the 2200 complainants per annum of elder abuse in New Zealand, such as the Elder Abuse Response Service, Age Concern, or Grey Power, are simply toothless state-funded echo chambers into which complaints go to die; the police are not interested in helping complainants unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed; the Health & Disability Commission complaints process can take over twelve months to reach a decision as to whether a breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights has occurred, for no meaningful sanction; and the courts only seem to be concerned with what is legal, not what is ethical in this space.
One case I became familiar with was a woman who worked as an in-home caregiver, who had groomed and then financially exploited so many elderly clients, she ended up with a portfolio of ten properties to her name. The woman was blatant in what she was doing, the families of the elderly clients couldn’t stop her, and the police didn’t want to know about what was going on.
Based on what I have discovered so far, there are dozens, possibly hundreds of cases of elder financial grooming and abuse by both family member and third-party in-home caregivers in particular, that have, and are occurring in New Zealand.
This abuse is hiding in plain sight, and there is no meaningful state authority to stop this abuse occurring.
This situation needs to change, because pretending to care about elderly financial grooming and abuse, without the power to do anything about elderly financial grooming and abuse, is both morally and ethically misleading to the public.
See more information on this topic at https://bewarecare.org/
When was the last time you needed encouragement?
Encouragement in its purest sense is an action, usually of giving someone support, confidence, and hope towards an ultimate positive outcome, as a result of that person’s perseverance and endeavour.
Encouragement is the psychological equivalent of a “booster shot”, and needs regular top-ups; one encouraging comment over a 10-year relationship doesn’t work.
The rise of “cancel culture” (whereby if you say something that someone else disagrees with, they try to de-platform you via various social media attack methods), has resulted in lots of decent people deciding not to say very much at all about anything, and civil society is the poorer for it.
The “silent majority” thus stays silent, censoring themselves in all communication realms, including the realm of encouragement.
Pause a moment: when you look outside of yourself and your own circumstances, who or what has your personal support? Have you communicated your support to that person – encouraged them perhaps?
Pause again: when you need encouragement, to what or to whom do you turn to for encouragement assistance? Do you even feel confident reaching out to secure some encouragement regarding what you are going through, the circumstances you are facing, or the problems you have that have yet to find an appropriate resolution?
English metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) wrote the words “No man is an island” (old English including woman and man in the same word “man” at the time), to remind readers of the myth of independent self-sufficiency, and that everyone relies on someone. Those that choose not to offer or receive support can become isolated, invisible even, the people who may die in their beds, and no-one notices their demise for months, sometimes years.
Encouragement can come in many forms, the most common being words, action, and time.
Look around: who may need a kind reminder that they matter, and what they do, matters? Who may benefit in ways immeasurable by the offer of some help and assistance with something they are struggling with? Who may respond well to someone who stops to notice that they are isolated, and offer (more than once, if necessary) to include them in an activity, event, or just to hang out with them for a while?
The opportunities to receive and give encouragement are everywhere.
Doing so just requires a different set of eyes through which to observe humanity around us - theirs, and ours.
Steve is the Director of Relationship Matters Ltd. He holds two applied Bachelor's degrees (Counselling & Addiction) and a P.G. Dip. in Applied Social Practice. Steve is married with two children and lives in West Auckland.