Elder harm

Kōrero tahi: using restorative circles for addressing harms experienced by older persons.

The Chair in Restorative Justice undertook a pilot scheme from 2017 to 2019 to trial the use of restorative approaches in situations of elder abuse, harm, and neglect. The pilot, funded by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), was carried out in partnership with Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley, Wesley Community Action, as well as Age Concern Wellington, Victim Support, New Zealand Police, Capital and Coast District Health Board, WellElder, and the Mary Potter Hospice.

The pilot aimed at implementing a model that is victim sensitive, empowers older people to have a voice, strengthens positive family relationships, and helps curbing abuse and conflict. As the core practice model, restorative circles were used, allowing for a tailored approach to address the needs of various participants involved in the process.

Accompanying research reviewed the implementation of the pilot to identify lessons learnt, challenges encountered, and factors that contributed to any successful results. Focusing on 21 case referrals, it assessed aspects relating to engagement in the process and how the primary participants experienced the restorative intervention and its outcomes. Despite limited case numbers, the study found that restorative circles provided a safe space for having difficult conversations and empowering the parties to make choices, while being centered around the older person's needs. Even in cases that did not proceed to larger family circles, participants valued initial conversations informed by restorative principles to respond to situations of elder harm. Some of the main challenges encountered referred to the complexity of elder harm and the expenditure of time to address harmful situations.

Kōrero Tahi

A Pilot Project on using Restorative Approaches for Addressing Harms Experienced by Older Persons. An Implementation and Evaluation Report.