IntroductionSocial workers play a very important role as we are going to realize in the discussion below. However they have many a times especially in the United Kingdom and indeed the world over been accused of abusing the people they swerve and especially the old people. Apart from finding out what the job of a social worker entails the following discussion also seeks to verify how true these allegations are and what can be done to improve the situation.Work DescriptionThis discussion begins with a very simple question, who is a social worker? This is a person who mainly works with people who have been excluded socially or people who have some sort of crises in their lives.
The crises could be in form of diseases, deformity, old age or such kinds of crises. The role played by social workers is to give support to thee the people who have been excluded socially so that they can lead a normal life despite of the exclusion. Their main role is to guide such people while being careful to maintain a professional yet friendly relationship with the people who need them (Gerald, C., Marianne, S. C. & Patrick, C. 1999).The work setting of a social worker varies from hospitals to schools, to homes of the elderly and destitute children.
Social workers re therefore trained to be flexible so that they can easily fir in whatever work environment they fine themselves. Social workers have close links with health workers as their services are related. Other key groups that social workers offer their services to include juvenile offenders, people who have diagnosed with metal problems, people who refuse to attend school especially the young people who are truant, drug addicts, the elderly and people with disabilities (Cloke, C. 1983).Some of their tasks include conducting various interviews with the “patients” and their families to assess their progress.
The social workers also give some form of counseling or guidance especially to drug addicts or to school dropouts. They also develop support programmes which act as a guide to help the people in need live a normal and complete life despite the crises in their lives. The social workers also assess the conditions of their “patients” and where necessary refer then to health workers for treatment.
Besides giving counseling the social workers sometimes make decision especially for those who are considered incapable to make viable decisions for themselves. They also make referrals o the relevant agencies that are likely to offer help to the patients. For example in case of drug addicts they may refer them to rehabilitation centers while people with mental problems may be referred to mental institutions.As already mentioned, one of the key groups that social workers are in charge of the elderly or the old age group.
In many countries including the United Kingdom the old have homes from where care and protection is provided for them. However research indicates that many a times, the old people are mistreated and abused while confined in their homes. Survey carried out recently indicates that at least 2,000 old age people in the United Kingdom are mistreated and abused by being denied basic rights like food and shelters. While some argues that social workers have had a hand in it, the main aim of this discussion is to help social workers realize the danger and threats that face the old people and come up with ways to prevent more of these in future.
According to the survey the increase in population of people is said to play a key role in the abuse of old people. Predictions indicate that should the number of old age people go up then the level of abuse for the old people is likely to rise. The manner in which social care services are provided in the UK has changed over the years (Deborah, F. H. 2002).The abuse of elderly people in the United Kingdom and indeed in the world over has now been recognized as a social problem. Since this problem was acknowledged as a social crisis several measures have been taken to protect the old people.
The National Service for Older People came up with guidelines on how social workers should treat the elderly. Among the main points of emphasis were to ensure that there is no discrimination based on age, to give focus on the mental health for the elderly and provide personalized care for the elderly people. In addition there are professional guidelines laid out which stipulate the ways in which social workers can protect the elderly from abuse and mistreatment. One professional programme is one which has seen the police and social workers work together in protecting the elderly from abuse.Association of Directors Social Services is yet another framework that sets out standards that help social workers respond to the needs of the old age especially those who are facing abuse. Another safeguard that has been put in place is the Protection of Vulnerable Adults whose main aim to make sure that any person who from previous records is known to have the intention to cause harm to an elderly person or a vulnerable adult is prevented from participating from social health work. However a research conducted recently indicates that this scheme is not as effective as it ought to be, the main reason being that there is no consistency in keeping of records by authorities.
For this reason other alternatives are still being sought to curb this social problem of abuse of the elderly (Eastman, M, 1994).Scotland seems to have identified this problem quite early than other countries and have therefore been able to develop a framework that is quite effective compared with those of the rest of the countries. Scotland adopted a legal framework to protect all the old people who appeared to be at a risk of being mistreated whose rights were likely to abused.Just to what extent is the abuse of old people in the U.K is a question that is frequently asked by many. By definitions as defined by World Health Organization abuse of elderly people is an act or set of acts either done once or repeatedly whose magnitude is such that it causes distress to an elderly person. According to a survey carried out majority of abuse to the elderly comes from people who are close to them, either family members, social workers or neighbors. So then how can as a social worker recognize abuse of the elderly? According to the Scotland legislation there are five types of elderly mistreatment which will help a social worker identify when mistreatment of an elderly of a social worker has taken place (Aitken, L.
1996).This was an attempt to help the elderly people who have been mistreated since most of the victims are afraid to speak out. According to a research conducted by various social workers departments in the U.K the major kind of elderly abuse is neglect which is the followed by financial abuse.
Some of the key factors that contribute to neglect in elderly people is gender so that female elderly people tend to face more neglect than their male counterparts. Yet another reason is advancement of age so that those above the age of 85 years were found to face more neglect than those who are below that age. Financial abuse on the other hand was majorly suffered, according to the research, by those who living alone or were having marital problems like divorce or separation and were suffering from loneliness.
It was discovered that the main perpetrators of financial abuse were people close to the victims like the spouse or a family member (Pillemer, K. 1986).The researchers sought to find out the reasons why the old people are mistreated or abused. It was discovered that a majority of people in the society find the elderly to be too dependent on others too fragile to do anything by themselves and the need to have someone by their side all the time to aid them which many find to be irritating. A good example is that of a social worker who is already overwhelmed by the responsibilities he or she is having and yet he is also required to look after the elderly.
This may lead to abuse though without intending to be abusive.How should the social problem of abuse of old people in the U.K and indeed the world over be tackled? To begin with the older people ought to be given a strong voice so that whenever they are abused or mistreated then can comfortably speak out without fear or intimidation. Secondly more ought to be done to ensure that any kind of mistreatment or abuse of the old people is detected and curbed in its early stages.
This is so because research indicates that when it persists the consequences could be severe leading to illness of the old person or even death due to stress and depression. Health and social workers must also undergo training that will help them recognize symptoms of old age abuse. In addition health workers must have the understanding and knowledge of that factors that contribute to old age abuse.References:Aitken, L. (1996). Gender Issues in Elder Abuse.
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Deborah, F. H. (2002). Family violence: a review of theoretical and clinical literature. London: Sage.Eastman, M, (1994).
Old age Abuse. Michigan: Chapman and Hall.Gerald, C., Marianne, S.
C. & Patrick, C. (1999).Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions. London: Brooks/Cole Pub. Co.
Pillemer, K. (1986). Elder Abuse. London: Greenwood Publishing Group.Pritchcard, J (1992).
Abuse of Elderly People. Michigan: Kingsley Publishers.