559 allegations of abuse and neglect of Sefton’s vulnerable adults

HUNDREDS of vulnerable adults have suffered abuse or neglect in Sefton, it has been alleged. Sefton Council has begun investigations into 559 complaints of sexual, physiological, physical, financial, discriminatory, and institutional abuse and neglect made by those accessing adult social care in Sefton.

All of the complaints were made in a nine month period between April 1 and December 31 2009, a report from the borough’s director of social care, Charlie Barker, revealed.

The oldest alleged victim was 103, and the youngest was 19.

Mr Barker’s report highlighted cases where the council had stepped in to safeguard elderly and vulnerable Sefton residents.

These included an elderly woman who was the victim of protracted abuse by her family being moved into residential care.

A police investigation is now underway into the case of an old man who was subjected to financial and emotional abuse by a so called “friend” who allowed him to live without heating or food, in isolation and in debt.

As in these cases the report showed that the majority of complaints made relate to allegations of abuse in the home, although there were 12 complaints relating to hospital care, 14 to day care and 124 to nursing and residential care homes.

A council spokesman said that Sefton investigated all allegations made relating to vulnerable adults and added that in some instances several allegations were made by one individual.

Many of these investigations are still ongoing, and their outcomes are as yet unknown.

Commenting on the report, MP John Pugh said: “The statistics throw up not only the worrying levels of abuse, but also variety.

“It also highlights that many elderly people are especially vulnerable – particularly those suffering from dementia or physical infirmity.

“With dementia and disability increasing and support services stretched, this will get worse.

“We cannot ignore this problem.”

With the government’s policy now to increase the number elderly people cared for in their own homes, complaints could be set to rise.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “The figures quoted in this routine report reflect everything from minor allegations through to more serious accusations.

“They do not reflect any significant rise from last year and are comparative to other authorities around the country.

“We have a robust system for dealing with such allegations and have invested heavily in further staff training.

“We are never complacent when dealing with vulnerable people and will investigate any allegation made.”

But in the nine month period studied in the report there were 559 allegations of abuse made – 59 more than the 12 months preceding it.

Mr Baker’s report also updated councillors on the training programme currently underway for Sefton Council staff, partner and voluntary organisations.