Maggie Barry opens the newly extended Age Concern offices in Richmond on Tuesday.

Age Concern deals with shocking cases

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The escalation of elder abuse has stretched the resources of Age Concern Nelson-Tasman resulting in the Richmond-based service increasing staffing levels and extending its Oxford St offices.

Age Concern Nelson-Tasman opened its extended and refurbished offices on Tuesday and manager Sue Tilby says the upgraded facilities are needed to cope with the increasing demand for their services.  Sue says Age Concern helped out around 3000 senior citizens in the region last year including some people who are suffering from shocking incidences of elder abuse and self-neglect.

“We have gone to see people in houses where there were vermin running around very visibly everywhere and open sewers. One person we saw lived their life sitting in a chair because they had mobility issues and couldn’t physically get out.

“We see a lot of self-neglect like this as well as elder abuse and it’s increasing. When I started here four years ago, I was the only staff member and now we have four staff and five volunteers.”

Sue says Age Concern Nelson-Tasman’s membership has also grown from 300 to about 800 in that period so the previous building was not simply not big enough.

“The previous building was too small, it was cramped for the staff and visitors and it had no bathroom or kitchen facilities and we felt that we couldn’t offer a safe, confidential environment for our clients,” says Sue.

The cost of the new extension and refurbishment was $95,000 with funding coming from the Canterbury Community Trust, Pub Charity Ltd, Peter Malone Trust, Springhill Trust and Frimley Foundation, the  Lion Foundation along with own member’s donations and Age Concern funds. The newly upgraded offices were opened by Senior Citizens Minister Maggie Barry at a ceremony attended by about 30 people on Tuesday.

“We have a huge older person demographic in our region and the new premise allows us to provide better services to our clients,” says Sue.

Age Concern’s services include, elder abuse and neglect prevention, visitor services to socially isolated older people in their homes, support services, information, advice and personal advocacy, educational workshops and seminars, celebratory events and provision of total mobility taxi vouchers.

Age Concern will hold an open day this Monday from 2pm to 3pm at 62 Oxford St to coincide with the start of Elder Abuse Awareness Week June 15 to 22.