Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Domestic Violence, Criminal Harassment and Elder Abuse Unit

Project Objectives:

The Safety and Awareness for Elders (SAFE) project was designed to:

  • Increase awareness and education for seniors about elder abuse, targeting communities that show higher than average risk factors.
  • Provide programming and information sessions for diverse communities, in multiple languages, and through different modes of dissemination, and training for community organizations. 
  • Increase reporting of these offences and decrease all forms of elder abuse around Vancouver.
  • Create positive, collaborative and trusting relationships between communities and the VPD.

Key Partners:

Activities:

  • Hosted 12 community presentations to interested organizations, front-line workers and seniors; developed materials and resources, including a website.
  • Launched Safety Awareness For Elders (S.A.F.E.) program on June 15, 2016, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, with speeches and some high profile recent examples of local elder abuse.
  • Members of S.A.F.E. educate seniors, family members and caregivers about recognizing the signs of abuse and provide prevention tips and key resources to seniors at risk.

Outcomes:

  • Increased:
    • participation by seniors and organizations in programs and initiatives hosted by VPD about elder abuse prevention; 
    • understanding by victims and potential victims of the dynamics surrounding elder abuse;
    • knowledge and awareness by the general public of elder abuse , what it constitutes and  how to respond;
    • reporting  to VPD about actions of abuse that constitute crimes (financial, fraud, theft etc.; assault; sexual assault; neglect, not providing the necessities of life; assistance requested; disturbance; domestic assault; verbal assault; fear for life);
    • understanding about the level and types of abuse occurring;
    • requests for resources and strategies to deal with abuse;
    • number of case files on elder abuse.

Tools and Resources:

  • PowerPoints for community presentations.
  • S.A.F.E Wallet Cards translated into Cantonese and Punjabi that provide contact numbers for assistance.
  • Posters emphasizing the message – “Be Safe – Be Strong”.
    • Posters are currently highly visible at Canada Line and Sky Train line hubs and will be in over 10 bus shelters around Vancouver during the month of July 2016.
  • Webpages dedicated to Elder Abuse prevention on VPD’s website discuss abuse, both criminal and non-criminal and provide resources and phone numbers. Easy access through the Safety and Awareness for Elders button from page of the VPD website. http://vancouver.ca/police/organization/investigation/investigative-services/special-investigation/elder-abuse.html
  • Considering producing the S.A.F.E. wallet cards as magnets also.

Lessons Learned:

  • A project coordinator would have greatly helped in developing the marketing materials.
  • The Transit Shelter Advertising Program provides free marketing space for campaigns.
    • Submit an application as soon as possible. Spaces are limited and are in high demand.
  • Many marketing firms take on good will projects, but there is a great demand for free marketing. Requires a request well in advance – at least six months.

For Sustainability:

  • Safety Awareness for Elders is a foundational legacy program that is now established in VPD’s Elder Abuse Unit, and will be used as a platform for education and prevention information for seniors.
  • VPD Elder Abuse Unit is available to all groups interested in being educated about the S.A.F.E. program.
  • Partners BCCEAS, MOSAIC, Vancouver Community Policing Centres Societies, QMUNITY, Vancouver Coastal Health and Family Services of Greater Vancouver are encouraged to urge their staff to participate in S.A.F.E. training at no cost to them, or to their organizations.
  • Key partners have agreed to disseminate the S.A.F.E. resources.
  • Awareness about the program will be maintained through social media, using the VPD website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.