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EESC opinion: Elder abuse

Key points

The Committee

  • underlines that Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognises and respects the rights of older people to lead a life of dignity and independence; the challenge of the future will be to tackle the demographic change in an affirmative way;
  • stresses that elder abuse is a much-neglected issue; particular risks are faced by older people who are dependent on care and/or are isolated within their own homes or resident in care facilities;
  • therefore urges the EU Council presidencies, the European Commission and Member State governments to address the issue of elder abuse, particularly within a care setting;
  • feels that a pan-European strategy is needed; this pan-European strategy must be underpinned by an EU-wide study of elder abuse, particularly within a care setting;
  • considers that a national and EU-wide exchange of good practice procedures and models is absolutely vital both to securing quality assurance and to promoting the development of care standards;
  • finds that elder abuse, particularly within a care setting, can only be effectively prevented by action at the appropriate national level; thus, national action plans must be drawn up that take particular account of the following points;
  • it is essential to break the taboo of elder abuse in a care setting by raising public awareness;
  • general guidelines and appropriate legal bases should be established that are consistent with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
  • national reports are needed on the prevention of elder abuse in a care setting, whether provided at home or in a care facility;
  • steps must be taken to improve the information available to individuals and institutions directly involved in care, to boost their scope for action and to enhance cooperation;
  • a broad-based, readily accessible and confidential advisory service should be set up;
  • arrangements must be made to provide respite for family carers and advice and support for professional carers;
  • networks should be established among all players and institutions directly involved in care.