Social, community and health service organization representatives and concerned citizens came together Friday to discuss how to prevent the abuse of vulnerable adults in Kelowna.
According to Sherry Baker, executive director of the BC Association of Community Response Networks, between four and 10 per cent of adults are vulnerable and subject to abuse.
“Adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations and are still experiencing various forms of abuse and neglect,” said Baker.
Baker was one of the main speakers at Friday’s workshop, which was held at First United Church Hall.
“The workshop was an opportunity to bring together members of the community response network—they’re the service providers and agencies in Kelowna that deal with the abuse of vulnerable adults—and some community members to help them understand the role of the community response network and the role of the Public Guardian services,” said Baker.
According to Baker, abuse toward vulnerable adults is a “complex issue” that can include emotional, physical, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse.
She noted abuse often comes from those in close relationships.
“Most of the abuse of older or vulnerable adults is perpetuated by a family member,” said Baker.
“That’s their support network, so they’re not going to report on a family member, because that would leave them totally isolated.”
She added the workshop focused on ways the community can not only provide support for the abused individual, but also the abuser.
“A lot of it is financial abuse, believing they should have their inheritance before their parent dies.
“Very often they experience some real challenges in their life as well. It could be substance abuse, family breakdown resulting in losing all their assets, losing their job, it’s usually some kind of an event that’s made them feel quite desperate.
“They see their (parent) with having assets. They think: If I could get my hand on those assets, it could help me.”
Baker said awareness of the problem has increased, but continued education is necessary to ensure such abuse is not tolerated within the community.