Background: The risks of financial exploitation and abuse of people with dementia remain under-researched. Little is known of the views of those responsible for local adult safeguarding systems about prevention and redress. We explore current repertoires of responses of such persons and consider barriers and facilitators to minimizing risks of financial abuse for people with dementia.
Methods: Fifteen qualitative interviews were undertaken with a purposively sampled group of Adult Safeguarding Co-ordinators in England in 2011. Framework analysis delineated themes in the transcripts; these were included in an iteratively developed coding framework.
Results: Five themes were explored: (1) incidence of financial abuse; (2) impact of dementia on safeguarding responses; (3) warning signs of financial abuse, including neglect, unpaid bills, limited money for provisions; (4) encouraging preventive measures like direct debit to pay for bills, advance care plans, appointing Lasting Power of Attorney; and (5) barriers and facilitators in safeguarding, including the practice of financial agencies, cultural barriers, other systemic failures and facilitators. Not all systems of financial proxies are viewed as optimally effective but provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 were welcomed and seen as workable.
Conclusions: Healthcare professionals may need to be more alert to the signs and risks of financial abuse in patients with dementia both at early and later stages. Engaging with safeguarding practitioners may facilitate prevention of abuse and effective response to those with substantial assets, but the monitoring of people with dementia needs to be sustained. In addition, professionals need to be alert to new risks from electronic crime. Researchers should consider including financial abuse in studies of elder abuse and neglect.