The Northern service area of Helsinki city is actively participating in the development work of the TISOVA project in Finland. The project steering group consists of representatives from various units of Kustaankartano and Syystie Comprehensive Service Centres, including short-term care, respite care, family carers’ support, home care, gerontological social work as well as voluntary work.
The steering group has discussed the characteristics of and challenges related to elder abuse that professionals encounter in their daily work. The professionals were able to identify real-life cases of violence and neglect. However, it was recognised that intervention and taking care of the safety of an older person in such cases often requires building a long-term professional relationship with the client. Talking about violet experiences and allowing oneself to receive help requires courage.
In cases where the perpetrator is also the main carer, the older person may be afraid if s/he will be able to survive without the assistance the perpetrator provides. Additionally, sometimes taking care of one’s children is seen as a higher priority than one’s own safety. Various symptoms caused by memory disorders may also lead to risky situations with one’s elderly spouse.
As part of the project in January 2018, an open discussion event was organised to the older people visiting the service centres. The response was positive. The theme of human rights turned out to be of particular interest for the older participants. Intrigued by the event, a number of older woman signed up for a group that gathered together three times during the spring. The women were highly interested in learning about international human rights, particularly from the older people’s perspective. Further themes of the group were independence, self-determination and the right to be heard. A topic was older women’s experiences of sexual harassment and abuse.
The steering group decided to organise a series of training targeting the health and social care professionals of their area. There were in total four training events in different parts of the Helsinki Northern service area. 55 professionals from home care and other units of the service centres participated in these events. The participants were worried about the safety of their older clients and identified abusive experiences and situations. A common concern raised relates to the challenges of working in elderly care.
Despite their hectic work schedules, the professionals take a genuine interest in their clients and their well-being. As part of the training events, a questionnaire was used to collect the experiences and views of the elderly care professionals. The collected data reflecting their educational needs is aimed to serve the final output of the TISOVA project, an interactive training handbook. Training will be provided also in the older women’s groups in autumn 2018.