Elder Financial Grooming & Abuse Consumer Advocacy Campaign Launched At BewareCare NZ
A national and international private practice service provider in the field of Family & Relationship Counselling & Mediation has committed to privately funding a Consumer Advocacy Campaign regarding the practice of Elderly financial grooming and abuse by caregiver’s and state-funded in-home community support workers.
Relationship Matters Ltd Director Stephen Taylor became concerned by the “rampant, ongoing, and currently statutorily unstoppable” practice of elderly financial abuse whilst acting as a family advocate.
Mr Taylor found that there was no meaningful assistance available to people who experienced elderly financial grooming and abuse, so his agency funded BewareCare NZ.
BewareCare NZ’s website at www.bewarecare.org was launched on 12/10/20, and has three primary aims:
- To publically expose the rampant “open season” upon the vulnerable elderly who are being financially groomed and abused by Caregivers in New Zealand;
- To lobby Government to create meaningful protective factors for this vulnerable population who are being financially groomed and abused by Caregivers;
- To encourage the NZ legal system to enforce meaningful sanctions against Caregivers who commit acts of such financial grooming and abuse against this vulnerable population.
Bewarecare NZ will also act as an online Information Clearing House, where families are able to tell their stories, comment on other people’s stories, and share helpful resources and information with each other.
“It is already well known that around 75% of people who financially groom and abuse the elderly are direct family members of the abused. What isn’t so well known is that an estimated 25% of elderly financial grooming and abuse is committed by private and state-funded caregivers and agency-employed community support workers”, says Stephen Taylor, Convenor of Bewarecare NZ.
“BewareCare has been investigating this sector for some time, and the shocking conclusion we have reached is that there are no meaningful statutory protections against elder financial grooming and abuse being committed – none”.
“Even worse, it seems that when complaints against an agency worker are made, the agency is more likely to whitewash the complaint or Lawyer up, as opposed to dealing with the issue at hand. Protecting the agency brand assumes precedence over protecting the client the agency is being paid to provide a service for”.
“Agencies like Age Concern, Grey Power, or the Elder Abuse Response Service have no power whatsoever to assist in these situations; there doesn’t seem to be a ratifying registration body for Caregivers or Community Support workers; the Police don’t want to get involved unless it can be proven that a crime has been committed; and complaints to the Health & Disability Commission can take up to 6-12 months to be processed – there is just nowhere in New Zealand that the elderly financially abused can go, which means it’s open season on old people” says Mr Taylor.
“Overseas, there are Prohibited Trust laws which statutorily presume that any financial transaction from an agency client that benefits an employed non-family member service provider working for that agency, is fraud”.
“In New Zealand, whilst service provider agencies have various Codes of Conduct that expressly forbid third-party employed Caregivers form getting involved in the personal and financial affairs of their clients, the Codes are toothless – it seems that even funding agencies don’t expect the agencies they fund to enforce them” says Mr Taylor.
“BewareCare NZ will shortly be preparing the formal distribution of a petition for submission to the incoming Government, requesting the consideration of some much needed changes in this sector, including a National Register of Enduring Powers of Attorney, the introduction of Prohibited Trust legislation, the de-funding, public shaming, and criminal sanction of agencies and staff that enable this abuse to occur, and the establishment of a timely formal complaints authority that is able to enforce meaningful sanctions against the unprincipled, unethical reprobates who perpetuate this kind of abuse upon our most vulnerable population”.