Elder Mediation Services Among Diverse Older Adult Communities in Australia: Practitioner Perspectives on Accessibility. By: Herro, Annie; Lee, Ka Yee; Withall, Adrienne; Peisah, Carmelle; Chappell, Louise; Sinclair, Craig. Gerontologist. Oct2021, Vol. 61 Issue 7, p1141-1152. 12p.

Background and Objectives: Elder abuse is a complex problem, and barriers to reporting and help-seeking include shame and fear of loss of relationships with key family members. Elder mediation has been identified as one promising method of alternative dispute resolution. This study aimed to investigate the accessibility of elder mediation services among diverse groups of older adults, from the perspective of practitioners in a large Australian jurisdiction.

Research Design and Methods: The study employed a sequential mixed-methods approach, comprising a thematic analysis of semistructured interviews (N = 17) and an online survey of practitioners (N = 49) involved in referral to, or provision of, elder mediation services. Accessibility was conceptualized using existing theoretical frameworks, spanning practical (logistics-related), and normative (justice- and culture-related) dimensions.

Results: Factors limiting accessibility of elder mediation services included lack of community and practitioner awareness of elder abuse and elder mediation, discomfort with the mediation process, financial costs, lack of services in regional and remote areas, and complex service systems for older people. Within the mediation process, difficulties in assessing and accommodating cognitive and other impairments, managing power imbalances, and determining the appropriateness of the dispute for mediation were influential.

Discussion and Implications: This study showed that mediation can be a promising and effective approach to resolving disputes involving older people. The emergent perceptive dimension (community and practitioner awareness) emphasizes the importance of awareness-raising efforts surrounding both elder abuse and the potential of mediation as a viable pathway, the training of elder-mediators as well as resourcing elder mediation services, especially in rural and remote locations.