The Dewis Choice Initiative
The Dewis Choice initiative is client-led, addressing family difficulties and conflict in later life (aged 60+ years). The initiative offers a range of justice options, formal and informal, safety planning and wellbeing support.
The initiative employs Choice Support Workers and a Choice Wellbeing Practitioner who adopt a strengths-based strategy, explaining the options available to the older person, and providing intensive independent advocacy and support. Support is provided for up to 18 months enabling the older person to build trust in practitioners to fully disclose and validate their experience.
The role of the Choice Support Workers
A key aspect to the Choice Support Worker’s role is to ensure the client is safe and feels supported to have a voice in the decision-making and justice-seeking process. They promote equality of opportunity to ensure that people aged 60 years and over are given the same access to services as their younger counterparts.
Our Choice Support Workers are highly qualified in providing advice on civil and criminal justice options. Each hold an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) qualification. Through their training, they also have awareness of those with additional needs including; the LGBTQ+ community, people living with dementia, mental health and disability.
Depending on the individual’s needs and wishes, the Choice Support Worker can link in with other services to provide a more holistic service. The Choice Support Workers raise awareness of the nature of unhealthy or abusive behaviours with partner organisations and if the client wishes, share the client’s experiences to enable them to respond appropriately to the situation. Dewis Choice currently work with other partner agencies including national charities such as; Age Cymru, Hafan Cymru, Red Cross, Action on Elder Abuse Cymru, Safer Wales and Welsh Women’s Aid. The project also has considerable support from Local Authorities, the Police and the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales.
Choice Wellbeing Practitioner
The Choice Wellbeing Practitioner is a highly qualified practitioner who provides intensive advocacy support for up to 18-month period. The Choice Wellbeing Practitioner offers a bespoke service tailored specifically to meet the needs of older client. In addition, the practitioner works alongside clients to aid with recovery and establishing links with community networks.
Providing a whole families approach
Dewis Choice adopts a ‘whole families’ approach, where it is safe to do so, including restoring family relationships damaged by unhealthy or abusive behaviours. The workers engage with family members to restore communication. In cases where abuse occurs, the workers explain the effects of abuse to family members so they are in a better position to support the older person effectively. Project staff liaise with the older person, harmers, family members, including families of choice and significant others to agree how best to resolve their situation. Ultimately, the client’s wishes take precedent.
In cases where the person is, living with dementia the service can work with harmers, family members and other agencies to reduce risk and increase families’ skill sets and facilitate ways to bring about subjective positive change.
Increasing opportunities for all
Dewis Choice increases opportunities for all older people, recognising that some groups are likely to be further disadvantaged. Our referral criteria includes; men and women living in their homes aged 60 years and over, people from the older LGBT+ community and people living with dementia.
We also accept referrals that are standard to medium on the DASH RIC (specialist domestic abuse tool) to provide intervention at the earliest possible stage.
Dewis Choice is a service but is also a research study. We capture the client’s voice along their decision-making and justice-seeking journey to learn how our service and others can be more responsive to the needs of older people.
We provide opportunities for our clients and older volunteers to have their voices heard by different stakeholder groups to influence policy and practice. To find out more about our research click here The Centre for Age, Gender and Social JusticeThe Centre for Age, Gender and Social Justice .