Two separate individuals contacted this Office expressing concerns for the safety and well being of a senior who was living in the community. According to the individuals, they believed the senior was at-risk and as a result, they submitted complaints or referrals to Adult Protection.
This case presented an interesting issue relating to confidentiality involving multiple agencies and individuals. The information provided by the complainants suggested the mental capacity of the senior was lacking, including their ability to provide informed consent to health care staff to speak with friends or family regarding their care.
Based on the nature of the allegations, this Office determined that follow-up was required to ensure the safety and well being of the senior. An Ombudsman Representative contacted Adult Protection to ensure they were aware of the situation. In the interim, the contact information for Mental Health Services and Adult Protection was provided to the individuals who contacted the Office. Further, they were encouraged to contact local police should they have immediate concerns over the safety of the senior.
The Ombudsman Representative confirmed that Adult Protection was aware of the situation and that Adult Protection determined the senior was not in need of protection, however a referral had been made to Continuing Care for services. The Ombudsman Representative provided details on the alleged current situation and concerns over the health and well being of the senior, including their housing conditions. Adult Protection advised they would have a worker review the situation and again reach out to Seniors Mental Health regarding an assessment.
The Ombudsman Representative also contacted the Senior Safety Coordinator with the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) Senior Safety Program. The situation was described to the Coordinator, without using any personal information, and the Coordinator confirmed that this was a situation they could assist with. The Coordinator advised that their contact information can be shared with anyone who calls the Office that may benefit from their services.
Continuing Care was also contacted by the Ombudsman Representative to confirm what services, if any, could be provided to the senior. During contact with Continuing Care and the two complainants, it was identified that there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding regarding the use of kitchen facilities by home care staff to enable them to provide meal service for the senior. This was clarified, and Continuing Care stated they would be following up regarding providing a meal service for the senior.
After further involvement by Adult Protection, the decision was made to place the senior in a nursing home. Further communication from the complainants indicated they no longer had concerns regarding the senior’s safety and that the senior appeared to be doing well in this placement.
This case highlights the multiple agencies and resources that can be involved in one situation. It can be challenging for individuals to know who to contact when dealing with a stressful situation. This Office can assist with identifying the stakeholders involved, contacting and making referrals to these agencies, and identifying options and resources for complainants to address the issues