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Nurse to carry out research on domestic abuse affecting older people

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A nurse in Cornwall has won a grant to carry out research on domestic abuse affecting older people.

Zoe Cooper, a lead safeguarding nurse at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, will spend a year researching the subject with the aim of improving the support available to older victims of domestic abuse.

“It’s important to acknowledge that domestic abuse can take many forms and be experienced by many people”

Zoe Cooper

It will begin with a review of literature on recent legislative changes in domestic abuse policy relating to older people.

She will then work with key stakeholders from the trust to look at why someone experiencing domestic abuse may not choose to access support services, and what factors should be considered when designing support services.

“When people think of domestic abuse, it’s often depicted as a younger or middle-aged person suffering – and a lot of resources are indeed geared up for younger women,” said Ms Cooper.

“But it’s important to acknowledge that domestic abuse can take many forms and be experienced by many people,” she said.

She noted that there were many reasons why older people might not want to access help.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

Zoe Cooper

Frazer Underwood, associate chief nurse Royal Cornwall Hospitals, Zoe Cooper, and Professor Jill Shawe, director of Plymouth University’s Institute of Health and Community

“For example, cultural differences suggest that they don’t want to leave a marriage or seek help, as it could be admitting they’re failing,” she said.

She noted that “self-neglect” – when someone avoids tending to their own basic needs properly – wasn’t part of safeguarding until the Health and Social Care Act of 2015.

Ms Cooper said she believed that there may be an element of “self-neglect” when it comes to older people suffering domestic abuse.

“By exploring the literature available, we can have a better picture of what the problems are and how to help,” she said.

She will be working with the University of Plymouth to carry out her research and the project will be funded by the trust.

A trust spokeswoman told Nursing Times that £750 would be provided for the systematic review training at the university.

Ms Cooper take up the research role after winning the Joanna Briggs Institute Systematic Review Training Prize from the trust’s clinical school.

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