Community nurses working in Scotland have highlighted concerns about people in their care being vulnerable to financial scammers.
A new survey conducted by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) reveals 91% of those asked believed “some” or “many” of their patients were at risk of being defrauded.
Only 8% believed they were already fully equipped to help prevent financial scams, with 93% of respondents saying they wanted to be better informed and more prepared.
The figures, contained in a survey of 289 community nurses, come ahead of a seminar in Edinburgh looking at safeguarding those at risk of financial abuse.
The event, taking place on Thursday October 25th at the Grassmarket Centre, aims to raise awareness of how health and social care leaders can engage more fully in effective multiagency efforts to protect vulnerable adults from financial abuse. It will also explore how to help victims deal with the consequences for their health and wellbeing.
Representatives from Police Scotland, Age Scotland, Action on Elder Abuse and Trading Standards are among the speakers.
A significant amount of work has been done on the issue of financial abuse by the team at the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice at Bournemouth University.
Professor Keith Brown, director of the centre, will open the seminar discussing the potential of community nursing and social care teams to play a crucial role in safeguarding.
He received funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing to develop resource materials to support frontline staff, with QNIS accepting Burdett’s invitation to raise awareness of this resource in Scotland.
Prof Brown said: “It is clear that criminals are increasingly targeting lonely elderly citizens to financially scam. These are yours and my relatives and neighbours and the impact of being scammed is devastating for these victims.
“Community nurses are critical in this area as they are often the only formal professionals visiting the elderly in the community.
“The training resources we are launching today are designed to help community nurses spot and identify those at risk of being scammed and to ensure they know what steps and actions to take to support their clients.
“With £10 billion of fraud committed per year in the UK we simply cannot ignore this problem it is of a vast scale often hidden away but has devastating consequences.”
Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director of QNIS, added: “Most victims of financial abuse can ill-afford the monetary loss, and this can mean insufficient money for rent, food, bills and other necessities. These losses can adversely affect physical and mental health.
“Community nurses can identify the early warning signals of financial abuse and explore what’s true with the people in their care. They may either signpost sources of help, or (if warranted) alert safeguarding teams, the police, and trading standards. Nurses are well-placed to help people whose wellbeing has been harmed by scamming.
“Safeguarding from, and responding effectively to, financial abuse is an important aspect of holistic community nursing care.
“Community nurses are increasingly aware of this need and equally keen to learn more. This seminar aims to ensure the workforce feels equipped and supported to have informed conversations.”