As you will no doubt be aware by now, Home Instead Senior Care provides the highest quality companionship, home help and personal care services for the elderly and vulnerable people who want to live independently and safely in the comfort of their own homes, with the utmost dignity and respect. The complete interests and welfare of elderly people lies at the heart of everything we do.
Others don't !
Some time ago we became acutely aware that there was an ever increasing number of scams directed at elderly and vulnerable people nationally and in the Cleveland area. We were receiving information daily about elderly and vulnerable people becoming targets and sadly, often victims of crime and saw the upset and devastation first hand.
We had to do something about it - not simply protecting our own clients but with the elderly and vulnerable public at large. So, in response to targeted criminal activity towards the elderly, we developed and duly launched a Home Instead Senior Fraud Awareness Programme across Cleveland and the surrounding area. The programme educates people in the community about scams and frauds to prevent them happening in the first place.
How would we tackle the problem?
We considered it most effective to be able to provide practical tools, tips, and advice in addition to workshop style presentations to help arm people with very practical tools to spot a scam and to avoid becoming a victim. The information provided in the workshops informs people what to do if they are approached by whatever means or have fallen victim to scammers and how prevent future scam attempts in a way that elderly people could realistically follow. This public education programme ultimately helps ensure older people can remain living independently, without fear, at home, giving greater peace of mind to the elder generation, their families and communities. It is really working!
In association with Home Instead Senior Care UK, the national ‘Think Jessica’ Charity and the National Trading Standards Scams Team we at Home Instead Cleveland:
Produced a 'Senior Fraud Protection Toolkit' to be communicated with and distributed to local community and interested groups.
Created an hour long presentation / workshop which we could offer to community groups across Cleveland explaining:
- Why elderly people become targeted by scams
- Sharing concerns
- Detailing the typical type of scams aimed at vulnerable groups
- How to avoid them
- How to report them
Developed a ‘report a scam’ website portal directly with the National Trading Standards Scam Team (NTSST) so that when we hear about scams being perpetrated we can report them directly for their intelligence gathering and action through local Trading Standards Offices or the Police.
Trained all our Caregivers in a bespoke E-learning Scams Training which has been accredited by the National Trading Standards Scams Team (NTSST). This gave all our employees the knowledge and ability to ‘know the signs to look out for’ in spotting scams and preventing fraud in our clients homes and in other places. We have now managed to intervene many times and have stopped a number of ‘live’ scams from happening as well as putting steps in place to further protect people.
We have created a series of Fraud Awareness & Prevention Bulletins which are distributed after each presentation for attendees which gives further preventative information on:
- Silence of the Scams - A-Z list – Details of how particular scams operate and how to avoid them
- Protect Yourself From Fraud - Useful Contacts & Information - Lists of useful local and national contact numbers and online addresses, to help further protect people from telephone, postal, email, online and doorstep crime.
We are also collating an ever growing database of people who are kept informed of the latest scams and Frauds as the Police discover them so that we can continue to give the ‘heads up’ to people on an ongoing basis of the latest cons and scams being perpetrated via Police Crime Prevention Neighbourhood Alerts; Monthly Cyber Crime Newsletters and ‘Cleveland Connected’ as they are issued.
'No Cold Calling' - doorstep stickers
We designed and printed several thousand ‘No Cold Calling’ doorstep stickers to deter uninvited callers and to give vulnerable people an ‘excuse’ to close the door on people they do not know. They have proved so popular the next 5000 are to be printed
Above all else, we wanted to provide all this fraud prevention information, awareness and support to as many people as we could across Cleveland for FREE.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland
We approached the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland (Barry Coppinger) to detail our ideas and, if merited, gain support. He gave total support!
Together with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, we decided to make the Fraud Prevention Public Education Campaign accessible to the complete, diverse population of Cleveland. The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland agreed to help subsidise the costs of running these events and providing the Toolkits. Home Instead Senior Care subsidising all the remaining costs.
The Campaign 'took off' !
To date, these presentations have been extremely well attended and well received with a continuous number of referral recommendations being given for presenting workshops to other community groups across Cleveland. Many of the workshops are booked in advance through 2018.
Some of the 100 or so (so far!) community interest groups and organisations who have been arranging the Fraud Presentations include: Women’s Institutes, Townswomen’s Guilds, Senior Citizens Groups, Widows Associations, Silver Surfers Groups, Community Centres, Universities of the Third Age, Independent Living Facilities, Learning Disability Groups and Churches among many other professional associates such as Local Authorities, the Fire Brigade and NHS groups. Subsequently, the messages of fraud prevention and awareness are cascading widely and deeply to peoples own families, peers, friends and neighbours. If you would like to organise a free presentation for your social or community group, please contact Gavin on 01642 309650.
Practical Tools and Advice
Hundreds upon hundreds of people have now attended and have been shocked and surprised by the types and styles of crime being perpetrated and the ease by which fraudsters con money out of people in this area. Attendees have been very thankful to have been made aware of the very practical tools and techniques required to stop these fraudsters in their tracks and avoid becoming victims themselves. Many ‘actual incidents’ have been shared amongst attendees and awareness levels heightened so that lessons learned are remembered and acted upon.
Other Police forces have been very interested in the Fraud Presentations commissioned by the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and are considering emulating similar activities in their areas, such is the community benefit and value they see.
Other integral associations include The Victim Care & Advice Service which supports victims of crime across the Cleveland and Durham Police Force Constabularies. Once someone has been the victim of crime there is a degree of possibility they may be targeted again. The Victim Care and Advice Service is talking through the ‘Toolkit’ with all appropriate victims of crime and leaving a copy for their reference.
The Campaign Snowballed
Our Public Education Programme has snowballed into other areas never anticipated. National media such as television programme makers for ITV and the BBC Rogue Traders have been in touch to potentially include the collaborative work we are doing with Cleveland PCC / Police and the NTSST and Think Jessica in a new series of documentaries aimed at stopping fraudster’s activities. Radio BBC Tees have included our Fraud Prevention Public Education Campaign in their morning programmes and Senior FM Radio has also covered the 'campaign against fraud' message across the Cleveland airwaves.
The campaign has also been serialised in The Evening Gazette, The Northern Echo and the Darlington & Stockton Times; Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland’s monthly newsletter and has also been mentioned in the new Police and Crime Plan 2016-2021.
Undoubtedly the Fraud Prevention Public Education Campaign is having a huge impact in the prevention of scams, frauds and other cons across the Cleveland area. Interest in the campaign is escalating and growing organically in areas previously un-thought of when the campaign was planned. We are reaching and helping to protect many more people than originally anticipated.
Over four thousand people are now currently, directly armed with information and practical tools to avoid being the victims of fraudulent activity in its many forms and many, many more, c. 8,100 people indirectly aware of the warning signs of scamming activity.
It is Working!
All feedback from attendees and associated partners indicate that the propensity for crime and the fear of crime is significantly reducing. Many family members and neighbours of elderly people have directly benefited from the free public education programme. The anguish, worry and trauma caused to them and the destruction of their emotional wellbeing as they try to protect their loved ones health, wellbeing, life savings and other assets at home is being greatly minimised.
We have received many messages of thanks following the presentations for the interesting and captivating information and a number of times when people have notified us that they have avoided becoming victims of crime as a direct result of the information and tools they have received. It is fantastic to know that the campaign is really serving its purpose. We have also been instrumental in directly helping as well as signposting and advising people who have been scammed to more specialist agencies who could further help them.
Home Instead Senior Care in Cleveland, alongside the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, has played an instrumental role in raising community awareness, helping work the anti-fraud message deep into the fabric of vulnerable groups and those who can champion this cause across all local communities in Cleveland.
Mayors Award - 'Outstanding Contribution'
In March 2017 we were given a 'Service to the Community Business Award' at the Mayor's Good Citizen Awards 2016/17 which recognised 'Outstanding Contributions to the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees'.
Police & Crime Commissioners Community Safety Award
In November 2017 Home Instead Senior Care (Cleveland) won the Community Minded Business category in the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland’s Community Safety Awards. We are delighted to have had our fraud prevention work recognised with this award. We are proud to say that over 4,000 local people are now armed with information and practical tools that help them avoid being victims of fraudulent activity, as a result of the Fraud Prevention Public Education Campaign and it continues.
Michelle Fairless (centre), Director of Home Instead Senior Care (Cleveland) being presented with the award along with Caregiver Ambassadors, Alex Lamond and Mick King
Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ & Witnesses’ Commissioner for the House of Lords was also very interested in the seamless public / private sector combined efforts to help victims and prevent more people becoming victims in the Community. She was eager to draw upon the very good work being conducted in Cleveland in order that she could look at sharing ‘best practice’ and new initiatives for the prevention and benefit of victims of crime, nationwide. May 2017
Pictured: Ian Spittle (Chief Constable, Cleveland Police), Gavin Morrigan (Director, Home Instead Senior Care), Barry Coppinger (Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland), Baroness Helen Newlove (Victims’ & Witnesses’ Commissioner, House of Lords) Dave Mead (Victims Care & Advice Service)
As a business (as well as being genuinely caring people working within the business), we are 100% dedicated to proving exemplary domiciliary care and support for people living in their own homes as well as being very community minded – being 100% dedicated and committed to fighting fraud and the fear of crime amongst elderly and vulnerable people, making a real and material difference to the lives of elderly people across Cleveland over the short, medium and long terms.