The Elderly and Social Harm in Northern Ireland Sarah Machniewski CAP Research Student M1658602@qub.ac.uk
Northern Ireland 2000 - 2005 An estimated 8,000* people over the age of 65 died from violent causes including: • falls in the home • traffic accidents • Fires • Poisoning • Hypothermia How many died from criminal assault? * This figure has been changed since CAP seminar due to an unreliable source. This is a temporary figure until further analysis can be carried out.
2000-2005 4 died from assault
This research aims to: • Analyze the nature and extent of harms which the elderly suffer in Northern Ireland • Explore the role of the media in the social construction of harm to the elderly. • Investigate what the elderly themselves see as causes of concern.
Social Harm/Zemiological Approach • A social harm approach includes the harm caused by crime. • Identifies through a life course perspective, a range of harms which may occur • Provides a holistic and balanced view • Benefits vulnerable groups in society
Physical Harm • Physical Harm: This category includes premature deaths or serious injuries due to accidents in the home, traffic accidents, assault, lack of adequate food and shelter, and exposure to various pollutants (Hillyard and Tombs 2004:19).
Physical Harm: Some Statistics • 2000-2005: The amount of elderly people admitted to hospital for one or more nights was 20, 624 due to accidents such as poisoning and falls (Source: RoSPA)
Physical Harms: Road Traffic Accidents Source: PSNI
Physical Harms • Admissions to hospital for one or more nights due to falls. (Source: RoSPA)
Physical Harm: Violent Crime (Source: NICS 2003/04)
Financial Harm • ‘Incorporate(s) both poverty and various forms of property and cash loss…we are thinking particularly here about a variety of forms of fraud, which includes pension and mortgage ‘mis-selling’, mis-appropriation of funds by government, private corporations and private individuals.’ (Hillyard and Tombs 2004: 19)
Some facts and figures…. • 1 in 4 pensioners live in poverty (Help the Aged) • Between 2002-2005 20% of pensioners living in poverty (Joseph Rowntree Foundation) • Female pensioners are much more likely to suffer from poverty • Fuel Poverty : ‘Heat or Eat’ In 2004 40% elderly people were living in fuel poverty. Highest rate in UK (The Poverty Site)
Financial Harm (Source: NICS 2003/04)
Emotional Harm • These harms are more difficult to measure (Hillyard and Tombs 2004: 19). Some of the psychological harms which the elderly may experience may be isolation, fear of crime, or financial worries.
Emotional Harm • Fear of crime:Over 60s most likely to worry about burglary. Over 60s twice as likely to believe there lives are greatly affected by fear of crime. (9% compared to 4% for those aged 16 – 29) (NICS 2003/04) • Depression:Depression affects about one in eight people over 65. Older people are, in fact, more likely to have mild depression than any other age group. (Help the Aged) • Isolation:Approx 80,000 people over the age of 60 living alone (DUP)
Emotional Harm: Fear and the Elderly • Study of fear and the elderly should be expanded beyond crime • This research aims to discover what ‘concerns’ the elderly have and if crime is one of them. • This research will question where these fears have come from.
Consider these two examples • 1) Mary, a 70 year old women has her bag snatched, her money is stolen and in the process has fell to the ground and fractured her arm. • 2) Clare, a 70 year old women has a low pension income. She has to choose between eating a healthy meal or having enough money to heat her home for a week. As a result of poor nutrition and a cold home her health deteriorates. She trips over her slippers one morning and due to her weakened health fractures her arm.
Social factors effecting harms • Age • Health • Income • Gender
The Media and the Construction of Harms The media are biased in their reporting. • Over reporting of direct violence: Crime • Under-reporting of violence by omission: Hunger, poverty, accidents. • Use of language, primary definers, column inches.
The Media’s Portrayal of Harm Elderly woman killed in accident. The elderly woman who died after she was struck by a car was Mary Evelyn Neish, 85, of Novara Park in Antrim. The incident occurred on the Belfast Road, Antrim, at 1220 BST on Sunday. Source (BBC Northern Ireland 26/6/06)
Crime and the Media Steve Nolan: Radio Ulster, Zero-tolerance against crime week. 14/9/07 ‘Is it time to have these thugs on the run’ ‘What about all these guys who hang around your street corners waiting to steal your property’ ‘What about a zero-tolerance against these thugs week’
Combating Harms • Working alongside the media • Belfast Healthy Cities: InterAction Plan • Charity Organisations • Good Morning Schemes • There is a need for longer term policies