Marie Beaulieu Ph. D. (Applied Human Sciences), is a full professor at the School of Social Work of the University of Sherbrooke and a researcher at the Research Centre on Aging at the CIUSSS Estrie-CHUS. She has accumulated 25 years of experience as a university professor.
Since November, 2010, she has held the position of Research Chair on Mistreatment of Older Adults financed by the Québec Government.
The contributions of Canadian non-profit organizations in countering abuse against older persons
Introduction: In Quebec, a Canadian province, the responsibility of responding to abuse against older persons, here called mistreatment of older adults (MOA), is shared between public services, community services and the private sector. Public policy also focuses on strengthening the continuum of services which includes prevention, detection, accompaniment and coordination roles for each type of organizations involved in countering MOA, within which non-profit organizations (NPOs) specialized in MOA or offering a MOA program including employees and volunteers, are considered essential partners.
Problem: Although NPOs are often referred as key actors, there has been little scientific work on their contribution, whether it is from salaried employees or volunteers, and on the effects on older adults who receive their services. The research project on Volunteering to Counter Material and Financial Mistreatment of Older Adults (ABAM-MF) (2015-2018), financed by the Social sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, aims to document the roles of NPOs in countering MOA.
Objective: To present the contribution of NPOs in the fight against MOA by addressing the specific actions assumed by employees and volunteers.
Methodology: Case studies were conducted with five Canadian NPOs. Data includes: organisational documentation, socio-demographic questionnaires and single and group interviews with administrators, employees, volunteers and older adults who received services (n = 64 participants). Intra-case thematic analyses were carried, and an inter-case report permitted the identification of convergences and divergences between with each other.
Results: In relation to prevention, detection and accompaniment activities, the five NPOs are active in the aspect of prevention but there are differences in their engagement to detection and accompaniment. In “collaborator” NPOs, which conduct an MOA program in a larger organisation, detection typically occurs when older adults, while participating in prevention activities, recognize they are victims or witnesses to mistreatment. Accompaniment is mainly limited to referrals. They are defined as “driving belts” between community and public services. In “specialized” NPOs, whose mission is solely to counter MOA, in addition to paid employees, volunteers are directly involved in detection and accompaniment when their experiences from their former professions are deemed relevant. For mistreated older adults, NPOs which specialize in the fight against MPA are recognized for allowing their situation to be heard. Volunteers, as much as employees, are considered for the generosity of offering their time, their regard for the respective rhythms of the older adults, their guidance in the recognition of rights and possible solutions.