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Responding restoratively to elder harm: lessons from a pilot scheme in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The search for adequate ways to address elder harm and abuse has become increasingly evident in public discourse. There is a growing consensus that integrated, multi-disciplinary approaches are needed, especially because older victims are often hesitant to resort to legal interventions. This evaluation study aimed to assess the benefits and challenges of a pilot scheme in Aotearoa New Zealand employing restorative processes to respond to elder harm and to discuss implications for future practice. Thirty interviews were conducted with professionals, older persons and family members. Our findings show that restorative encounters, in particular circle processes, provided a safe environment to engage honestly with each other and for mutual understanding and trust to emerge. The collaborative relationship of key stakeholders was a notable strength of the pilot. However, the major challenge in using restorative practices was dealing adequately with long and complex histories of family conflicts.

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