Elder Abuse Response Service

Additional information

P: 04 805 0880 
E: ears@wesleyca.org.nz

Team Manager
Claire Booth
E: cbooth@wesleyca.org.nz

Wesley Community Action runs the Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) for people aged 65 and over living in the greater Wellington region (Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti Coast and the Hutt Valley). 

Te Waka Haumaru, our older persons team, provides support, information and advocacy, and works with elders and their whānau to create sustainable safety.

This support may include:

  • improving financial protection
  • providing access to legal support
  • helping to resolve family conflict
  • organising respite care (short-term accommodation in a residential care home)
  • arranging new accommodation.

Get in touch for advice and support

Anyone who is 65 or older and living in the greater Wellington area can seek help from our EARS team.

An older person can contact the team themselves, or a family member, friend, neighbour or health professional can do it on their behalf.

Who to contact

  • Call our Wellington office on 04 805 0880 and leave a message for our EARS staff if you’re concerned about the safety and wellbeing of an older person. They will return your call within 3 working days.
  • Email our EARS team: ears@wesleyca.org.nz
  • You can also call a 24-hour national phoneline on 0800 326 6865 for non-urgent but serious concerns about the safety of an older person wherever they live. Your call will be directed to the nearest EARS provider in your region.

In an emergency call 111.

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse is a crime. Any act that causes harm to an older person is elder abuse, including:

  • emotional abuse, such as coercion,
  • bullying, threats or name-calling
  • financial abuse, such as stealing by using an older person’s eftpos card, transferring money online or scamming them
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • neglecting the care needs of an older person.

Most elder abuse is carried out by someone known to the older person – often a family member.

In many cases they are dependent on that person for their care, or for emotional support and friendship.

This can make them very reluctant to come forward about the abuse. They may delay telling anyone what is happening until the situation gets critical.

Risk factors for elder abuse

Most older people are loved and cared for by their families. However, about one in ten will experience some kind of abuse.

Older people who are dependent on  someone else for their care are particularly vulnerable to being abused. Other factors that put an older person at risk of abuse include:

  • living in poverty
  • being lonely or isolated
  • having dementia or cognitive decline
  • being responsible for or caring for a family member with mental health or addiction issues.

Elder abuse is more likely to happen in families already experiencing conflict. It is also more common in families with a history of family violence, or where there are drug or alcohol problems.

In some cases, elder abuse happens because the older person and their family do not understand the rights and responsibilities involved in formal legal roles, such as enduring power of attorney.