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New training curriculum helps nurses care for victims of elder abuse

June 26, 2017

By Lindsay Jolivet

As the Canadian population ages, elder abuse is becoming a growing public health concern. Elder abuse can take many forms, from physical and psychological abuse to financial exploitation and neglect. But healthcare professionals say they can’t always identify the signs of abuse in older patients and they don’t always know how to handle the issue.

Janice Du Mont
Janice Du Mont, EdD, senior scientist, Women’s College Research Institute

In collaboration with Sheila Macdonald, the provincial coordinator for the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres (SA/DVTCs), Janice Du Mont, EdD, a senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, designed a curriculum to address that gap. This curriculum teaches specialized care providers how to assess and treat elder abuse, including assessment, legal reporting requirements and follow-up care. The lessons were targeted toward Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), who are the main clinicians that abused women, men and children typically see when they present at a SA/DVTC across Ontario.

The team piloted the curriculum with a group of SANEs and asked them how much they felt their knowledge and competence in treating elder abuse had improved. The nurses said the curriculum was clear, appropriate and comprehensive. They also reported feeling more knowledgeable and competent in all of the content covered in the training, from medical examination to interviews, documentation, legal issues and other areas. The successful results are published in Nurse Education Today.

“We were glad that these nurses, many of whom have said in previous surveys that they lacked knowledge about treating elder abuse, benefitted from the added training,” Du Mont said. “We’re hoping to roll out this training on a bigger scale as part of a larger Elder Abuse Intervention we have been developing for potential pilot at several SA/DVTCs.”



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