Charmaine Spencer is a lawyer and Research Associate in Vulnerable Populations, focussing on a range of "risk" and older adult abuse issues. Ms. Spencer has been a member of the Gerontology Research Centre's staff since 1991. A member of the Law Society of British Columbia, her legal interests have focussed on disability law, human rights protection, guardianship and labour law issues.
She has written on a number of the legal aspects of family relationships with older adults, most recently in light of cases such as Newson vs. Newson.
She is past- President of the Advocates for Care Reform, a non-profit society concerned with improving the quality of life for people who live in institutional settings, as well as for those who work there. For two years, she was an active volunteer on a community effort to reform B.C.'s adult guardianship laws.
At the Centre, Ms. Spencer's research has focussed on three main areas:
1) abuse of older adults in community and institutional settings;
2) seniors and alcohol; and
3) legal and financial issues in aging.
In 1992, she began a two and a half-year study funded by the Notary Foundation of B.C. looking at financial abuse of seniors in B.C, the first study of its kind in Canada. In 1994 she wrote a Discussion Paper for the federal government on abuse and neglect of older adults in institutional settings. In 1995, she prepared a conceptual framework for the federal government and the Canadian Association on Gerontology to aid government’s and the public’s understanding of the meaning of the term "at risk" as it relates to seniors. She has been developing a practical decision-making model to help service providers deal with ethical dilemmas they may face in helping seniors who have been abused
or exploited. Recently, she has been exploring the long term health consequences of abuse for older women. She is also developing a
conceptual framework and blueprint for Health Canada, examining the economic and social costs of abuse against older adults.
From 1995 to 1998, she was engaged in a three year research project funded under the National Health Research Development Program. The multi-phase project examined the attitudinal and systemic obstacles to treatment that seniors with alcohol problems face. The applied research was undertaken with a community partner, the Seniors Well Aware Program, a Vancouver outreach
program for seniors.
In 1999, working with GRC researcher Lillian Zimmerman, she will be developing two publications addressing financial matters in later life. The first offers a financial and legal "survival guide" to the first year of widowhood. The second helps middle aged and older women to better understand the financial choices they will make throughout their lives.
In her role as a GRC Research Associate, Ms. Spencer has acted as a resource and liaison to various community organizations interested in innovative research. In the last two years she has helped them develop successful research proposals totalling over $373,000. Since 1991, over $242,000 has been awarded for her own research and publishing. Ms. Spencer is well known for her commitment for translating complex issues of aging research into language that all people can understand.
Selected Recent Publications
Spencer, C. (2006). An introduction to current abuse prevention strategies in long term care. Prepared for "A Way Forward" national project. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto, Institute for Life Course and Aging.
Spencer, C. (2006) Community guide to raise awareness of adult abuse. Prepared for International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.
Spencer, C., et al. (2006). Responding to older adults: With substance use, mental health and gambling challenges: A guide for workers and volunteers. The CAMH Healthy Aging Project. Toronto, ON.: Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.
Beaulieu, M., Gordon, R., & Spencer, C. (2005). The abuse and neglect of older Canadians: Key legal and related issues. In A. Soden (Ed.), Advising the older client (pp.196-234). Markham, ON: LexisNexis Butterworths.
Hall, M., & Spencer, C. (2005). Assisted living. In A. Soden (Ed.), Advising the older client (pp. 305-327). Markham, ON: LexisNexis Butterworths.
Spencer, C. (2005). Abuse in institutions. In A. Soden (Ed.), Advising the older client (pp. 235-246). Markham, ON: LexisNexis Butterworths.
Spencer, C. (2005). Discrimination: The law and older adults. In A. Soden (Ed.), Advising the older client (pp. 251-304). Markham, ON: LexisNexis Butterworths.
Spencer, C. (2005). Seniors, alcohol and stigma. [Canadian Mental Health Association] Visions Journal, 2(6), Summer 2005, 14-15.
Spencer, C. (2005). Suicide in later life. [Canadian Mental Health Association] Visions Journal, 2(7), Fall 2005, 12.
Spencer, C. (2003). Respecting your rights: A guide to the rights of people living in British Columbia long term care facilities. Burnaby: Simon Fraser University.
Zimmerman, L., & Spencer, C. (2000). You do have choices: A practical guide for financial decisons for women of all ages. Vancouver: Gerontology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University.
Zimmerman, L., & Spencer, C. (1999). Facing widowhood: A practical guide. Vancouver: Gerontology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University. [With a grant received from the Canadian Legion, Pacific Command.]
Bradshaw, D., & Spencer, C. (1999). The role of alcohol in elder abuse cases. In J. Pritchard (ed.), Elder abuse: Good practices in prevention and intervention (pp. 332-353).London: Kingsley.
Spencer, C. (1997, Winter). Ethical dilemmas in dealing with abuse and neglect. Ethica.
Spencer, C. (1995) Abuse and neglect of older adults in institutional settings: A discussion paper. Ottawa: Health Canada, Mental Health Division.
Spencer, C. (1995). New Directions for Intervention Research on Abused Older Adults. In M. McLean (ed.), Abuse and neglect of older Canadians: Strategies for change. Toronto: Thompson.