An Auckland family counsellor is calling for more protection for the elderly from the risk of financial abuse by professional caregivers.
Stephen Taylor, family counsellor and director of Relationship Matters Ltd, believes stronger measures are needed to protect vulnerable elderly from being exploited by state-funded and private in-home caregivers.
“One case I became familiar with was a woman who worked as an in-home caregiver, and who had groomed and then financially exploited so many elderly clients, she ended up with a portfolio of 10 properties to her name.”
Mr Taylor believes the elderly, who have often built up significant assets during their lives, are vulnerable to being emotionally manipulated by caregivers because of the nature of the role.
Often, he says, families are powerless to intervene in the situation.
Mr Taylor is inviting anyone who has had this experience to contact him, as he plans to present a petition to the government calling for the creation of stronger measures to protect the elderly.
Some of the obvious areas that need addressing, Mr Taylor says, are:
* Lawyers of clients should be excluded from being beneficiaries of their client’s Will.
* Financial abuse of the elderly should be a “criminal” matter instead of a “civil” matter.
* Criminal sanctions must be available to families and agencies to prosecute caregivers who place their clients in a position of dependency on them.
* No service provider, public or state-funded, that is supplying any service to a client should be involved in the personal and financial affairs of their clients.
* There should be a professional association for private and state funded caregivers (in home or otherwise), a Code of Ethical Conduct, and meaningful training in ethics.
* Money and gifts from clients to their service delivery provider should be off limits.
* The Health & Disability Commissioner needs more firepower, funding, people and resources to speed up decisions on complaints which currently can take more than a year.
* Anyone who is professional caregiver should have an EPOA if they are a recipient of any personal financial benefits from an elderly person, and if they do have an EPOA and/or have been named as a beneficiary of a client’s Will, then they should have to be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they attained the role of a beneficiary legitimately.
Mr Taylor may be contacted at email@example.com
Please go to https://bewarecare.org/ for more information on this issue, and to share your story of elder financial abuse.
A daughter regularly goes to visit her elderly mother in a high-profile NZ-based Retirement Home Provider.
A state-funded Caregiver is appointed by the Retirement Home Provider to provide in-home caregiving services to the elderly mother.
Over time, the daughter notices that the caregiver appears to be spending a lot of time with the daughters mother, and that the daughters mother talks about “how wonderful” the caregiver is.
One day, the daughter arrives at the mothers unit, and sees two caregivers working on site.
“This is one of my team, and I’m just training them up” is the explanation given by the original caregiver.
On a subsequent visit, the daughter visits her mother, and finds the “junior” caregiver sitting in the lounge of the unit, but the caregiver is not doing any work.
“Where’s Mum?” enquired the daughter.
“In with my Team Leader, but you can’t go in there, they are having a private conversation”.
Yes, the Team leader was indeed “having a private conversation” with the daughters elderly mother- the conversation was about the mother giving money to the two caregivers. One would have the conversation, and one would stay in the lounge to make sure no-one else could come in and interrupt the conversation.
10 points for anyone who can guess what the daughter (as EPOA) found out when she checked her elderly mothers bank statements, and cross-checked the sharp rise in account debits leaving her mothers account (money going into two separate third-party accounts), since the caregiver began providing state-funded service delivery?
Imagine a couple in their nineties, being NASC – assessed by a third party DHB-funded NGO.
The NASC assessor starts the assessment process by (wrongly) throwing suspicion on the family for even having the temerity to consider that their parents might be in need of an increased level of support and assistance.
The Rest Home Provider communicates a similar suspicion against the family.
The NASC results for the couple are then found to be disparate (in conflict).
One party to the couple is fully functional, the other party is in need of near-hospital rest home care.
The NASC assessor makes the recommendation that the couple should be split apart.
The family (quite rightly) tell the NASC Assessor to get stuffed, and manage to purchase a serviced unit for their elderly parents that doesn’t have as many restrictions as a hospital care unit.
Soon after the elderly couple settle in, one of the Rest Home Providers staff (a gardener) arrives on the property, and begins to strike up a relationship with the couple.
Over time, the Rest Home Providers gardener (who is also quite a proficient handyman) gains the confidence of the couple, and is the “go to” person for any jobs that need doing around the property.
The gardener begins calling the elderly male in the couple relationship ‘Dad”.
The gardener then starts to “notice” jobs around the house that the gardener thinks might need some attention (jobs which don’t actually need any attention at all).
The gardener not only illegitimately increases the number of jobs he is doing around the elderly couples house; he also starts ratcheting his hourly rate up as well.
By the time the elderly couples family members cotton on to what is going on, the gardener is charging $1000.00 a day for a days work – all right under the nose of their employer, the same Rest Home Provider who none-too-subtly accused the family members of trying to fob off their 90 year old parents.
When called out for his outrageous and exploitive behaviour, the gardener threatens physical harm upon the elderly couples family members.
The Rest Home does nothing – as far as we know, the gardener is still employed by the Rest Home Provider.
Bewarecare has the name and location of the Rest Home Provider – we are considering whether or not to publish it.
So, I wrote this:
And Age Concerns Response was this (see page 8):