stopping elder abuse in the bc japanese canadian community

Tonari Gumi, the Japanese Community Volunteers Association held bilingual workshops and worked to build stronger community networks as a foundation to stopping elder abuse in the BC Japanese Canadian community.

Project Objectives:

  • Ensure the BC Japanese Canadian Community is educated about elder abuse by holding bilingual workshops, and building community networks to establish a long term solution to reduce elder abuse.
  • Train seniors, community leaders and caregivers to recognize and respond to elder abuse.
  • Create Japanese elder abuse information, in both hardcopy and virtual formats.
  • Create a hotline for Japanese speaking seniors.

Key Partners:

Activities:

  • Created Japanese Elder Abuse booklet containing information about the SAIL hotline and Japanese interpretation service for seniors who are not confident about speaking with an operator in English. Tonari Gumi contact information is also listed on the booklet so that the organization can act as a point of contact for those who feel unsure about taking the step to call SAIL.
  • Seniors First BC presented a seminar to Tonari Gumi staff on how to identify abuse, and how to assist those who need support.
  • Delivered workshops at various locations in the Lower Mainland and Victoria, and distributed the information booklet to the participants.
  • Hosted a Poster Design Contest to raise awareness among younger generation.

Outcomes:

  • Trained community leaders and volunteers.
  • Overall greater awareness and understanding of the issue.
  • Enhanced access to elder abuse information through hardcopy and virtual materials.

Tools and Resources:

  • Elder abuse information booklet in Japanese.
  • A hotline providing Japanese interpretation to assist community members.
  • Workshop format with less emphasis on elder abuse to reach broader audience.

Lessons Learned:

  • Elder abuse is a very sensitive topic in the Japanese community and workshops must be modified accordingly.
  • Importance of providing various examples of abuse so seniors can relate to the issue.
  • Engage with seniors at the workshop and promote discussion.

Challenges:

  • Two workshops (Steveston CC and Japanese Language School) were cancelled due to the lack of interest.
    • Elder abuse is a very private/sensitive subject that for some seniors, especially among older generations, it is not the topic to discuss in public.
    • Elder abuse is often seen as a private family issue.  Participating in a seminar of this nature may imply that you have a family problem you wish to address. 
    • People are less likely to attend a workshop with a negative title or theme.
    • A lecture-style workshop, even with an interpreter, may make it difficult for some seniors to absorb all the information.
    • Difficult to ask questions or openly discuss the issue in a formal setting.
    • Younger generations are too busy with parenting and working, and no time to attend workshops.
  • Learning from 2 cancellations, we created new ways to reach the community:
    • Informal Talk session (20-30 min) at a smaller seniors’ gathering.
    • “The Seniors’ Safety Living Guide”, which includes other topics, such as online safety, fraud prevention, fall prevention, advance care planning to promote overall safety for seniors.
    • A Poster Design Contest for elementary school children to raise awareness among younger generations and promote discussion at home.
    • Even after learning about the issue, many seniors find seeking help very difficult.

For Sustainability:

Additional Planned Activities (at various stages of development):

  • Participate in National Seniors Day event with Mount Pleasant CRN.
  • Steveston Buddhist Temple Workshop – in discussion with the Temple to organize Advance Care Planning/Elder Abuse workshops in September.
  • At the monthly Seniors’ gathering group (“Minna-no-Tsudoi”) in September, Tonari Gumi will present the 2nd part of the “Seniors’ Safety Living Guide” workshop.
  • Hoping to create ongoing intergenerational activities at Tonari Gumi with Japanese-speaking seniors, such as reading or craft time for kids.