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Elder financial abuse in England: a policy analysis perspective related to social care and banking

Anthony Gilbert (Associate Professor at the School of Social Sciences and Social Work, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)
David Stanley (Foundation holder of Northumbria University's research Chair in Social Care, at the School of Health, Community & Education Studies, University of Northumbria, Newcastle, UK)
Bridget Penhale (Reader in Mental Health of Older People, at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Mary Gilhooly (Executive Director of the Brunel Institute for Ageing Studies, and Deputy Head of Research, at the School of Health Sciences and Social Care, Brunel University, London, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 14 June 2013




The purpose of this paper was to undertake a review of selected adult safeguarding policy and guidance documentation to establish the level of guidance provided in relation to financial abuse; identify similarities and differences between the guidance given to professionals working in different contexts; and report gaps or inconsistencies in the guidance given.


Qualitative documentary content analysis was undertaken to identify key issues and themes in documents selected from 25 local authorities in England.


Little variation was found in the content of the documents, which were all heavily influenced by “No Secrets” guidance. The victim and perpetrator were largely invisible and there is no reference to the possible medium to long‐term impact of abuse on individuals. There is no research evidence underpinning the use of the notion of “significant harm” when used in the context of adults. In addition, there is no means of comparing safeguarding decisions across different local authorities to evaluate consistency of decisions and outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

The lack of any mechanisms to compare safeguarding decisions and outcomes across local authority areas is a serious limitation of the way safeguarding works. Also, the failure to address the aftercare and support of victims means they are left to manage the psycho‐social consequences.

Practical implications

Safeguarding boards should evaluate the outcomes of interventions in a standardised way to enable comparison. They should also do more to ensure the longer‐term wellbeing of victims.

Social implications

The paper raises awareness of elder financial abuse.


This is the only policy review that focuses specifically on financial abuse.



Gilbert, A., Stanley, D., Penhale, B. and Gilhooly, M. (2013), "Elder financial abuse in England: a policy analysis perspective related to social care and banking", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 153-163.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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