When clinicians at Monash Health are faced with potential signs of elder abuse and wondering who to call, Selina Nivelle can both help and relate to their challenge.
Selina is the Monash Health Elder Abuse Liaison Officer and says hospitals are in a strong position to identify and respond to elder abuse. She brings a unique perspective to her role having worked in the law, aged care and social work.
“When people are wondering ‘who do I call?’ that’s where this program comes in. I was in that position dealing with complex elder abuse back when there was nowhere to go.
“Now we have pathways and someone who knows the system, who can help navigate.”
How did you get into this work?
“I had four years as a family violence lawyer so I have that lens on any scenario, having worked in both sectors. I can’t give legal advice but I know the services available.
“My role is about both educating others and providing support. I’m here to increase the capacity of our people to deal with issues as they identify them.
“If Monash people feel confident to handle things, then that’s a good thing.”
Selina says “I have a passion and commitment to working in this space. I’ve been doing it for a long time and I feel that older people are the most vulnerable population in our society. I feel that by doing this role I am actually doing something to assist and prevent elder abuse, but also to make things better for older people.”
What does an integrated model of care mean?
“Elder abuse is often undisclosed and under reported. It can be an intergenerational issue and quite complex. It can come in the form of psychological, financial, physical or sexual abuse or indeed neglect.
“Monash Health is a lead Victorian health service for elder abuse, which means we deliver an integrated model of care, working in partnership with the Bouverie Centre, Better Place Australia and Seniors Rights Victoria. So far over 370 Monash Health staff have attended specialist elder abuse training with Bouverie.
“We also have clear connections with the Southern Melbourne Primary Care Partnership Elder Abuse Prevention Network to focus on awareness and prevention and working relationships with legal services and Victoria Police.”
Selina has been working to bring this model together since late 2017.
What is an average day?
“My average day might include training, policy development, working with colleagues, aged care assessments and calls and consults from staff across the health service.
“My role is wider than Monash. The integrated model of care means close liaison with other service providers, both to build the strength of the networks and to help manage referrals.”
Selina works closely with Family Consultant, Catherine Hayden, from Better Place Australia.
“It’s quite a unique model which sees a community organisation have a staff member placed internally with Monash Health as part of the Aged Care Assessment team at Kingston.
“We are working to create a more seamless service for patients.
“Catherine goes to the wards, to discharge meetings and provides options for mediation and counselling services to support patients and families.
“We’re also keen on a faster solution, which may mean we also help with referrals to police – we deal directly with the family violence units at Dandenong and Moorabbin, who are set up to assist us,” Selina said.
What does success look like?
“Ideally workers come across an older person and they are confident to engage with them and recognise the signs of elder abuse and respond in a way which is appropriate for that person’s needs.
“Our other measure of success would be having enough services on the ground to support people.”
If you think you might need training to expand your professional understanding and knowledge of how to respond and escalate issues for patients in your care, there are a number of options:
- Elder Abuse-specific training:
- online, delivered by the Victorian Government: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/ageing-and-aged-care/wellbeing-and-participation/preventing-elder-abuse
- face-to-face in-service training, delivered (by request) by Selina
- face-to-face, delivered by Bouverie – https://www.bouverie.org.au/training/specialist_program/elder_abuse
- Or as part of the full-day family violence training being delivered across Monash Health. You can find more details about these sessions in the Monash Health Learning portal