Health Committee

No 42, Session 2002-03                            23 October 2003

NEW INQUIRY - TERMS OF REFERENCE:  Elder Abuse [Single Evidence Session]

The Health Committee will undertake an inquiry into the above subject. The inquiry will have the following Terms of Reference:

A small, but significant, proportion of older people experience abuse from those who care for them; either in the context of informal care (by family and friends), or health and social care staff. A commonly used definition for elder abuse is: “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”.

In light of this definition the Committee will examine the prevalence and causes of abuse of older people:

How prevalent is elder abuse?

Is there adequate research data on the extent of abuse of older people? ? How robust is the evidence, and what are its shortcomings?  Have specific issues, such as abuse in black and minority ethnic communities been neglected? Which types of abuse are most prevalent?  

What are the causes of elder abuse?

Who are the abusers? What is their relationship to the victim? What are the triggers for abuse? Do factors such as age, illness, race and gender affect the incidence of abuse?

The settings of elder abuse

Are there differences between abuse committed in a domiciliary or family setting and abuse in an institutional setting? Are there institutional factors that help create an abusive environment or are the risks greater in the domestic setting where care workers are more likely to be working alone?

What can be done about it?

What interventions are successful in preventing elder abuse?  What more can be done to protect older people?

Informal carers:

Which organisations should take the lead in cases of abuse by informal carers? Can older people be encouraged to come forward and report abuse? Are adequate systems in place to detect abuse opportunistically? What more can be done to support and protect informal carers?

Formal carers

Are clinical and care guidelines (e.g. NSFs, NICE etc) adequate? Are effective performance management systems in place? Is the new regulatory framework adequate or do other institutional structures need to be in place? What is the role of CHI / CHAI, the NCSC and other regulatory bodies in the protection of vulnerable elders and should their roles be strengthened? What is the role of inspections?

What is the role of staff training? What restrictions can be introduced or improved on the recruitment and monitoring of staff? Are arrangements for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults adequate? Are there particular concerns about older people making use of Direct Payments to employ care workers?

Recommendations for national and local strategy

How can the Government’s strategy be improved? Are existing government standards and guidelines adequate? What are the policy options? What are the priorities for action?


Organisations and individuals wishing to submit a short memorandum are invited to do so no later than Thursday 13 November. Late memoranda will only be accepted at the Committee's discretion, and may not be considered for publication. The evidence session will take place on Thursday 11 December.

A guide to preparing written evidence can be found on .The Committee requests that evidence should be concise and in the form of a self-contained memorandum, prepared according to the guidelines set out by the terms of reference given above and preferably submitted electronically to . Please note that the Health Committee is unable to investigate individual cases.

The Health Committee is a Select Committee of the House of Commons. It is appointed under Standing Order No.152 to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Health and associated public bodies.