Abstract Despite the emphasis that has been placed upon other forms of abuse, elder abuse has and is still struggling for recognition. This paper aims to highlight the history of social policies that surround elder abuse and its development in the public arena. In the orthopaedic setting the elder patient population is continuing to grow and it is important that for all health care workers in this setting to be well versed in the social policies and the practice implications of elder abuse. Through focusing on the orthopaedic nurse's role, the paper looks further into education and training, record keeping and ways of reporting abuse. The main aim of this paper is to help increase the awareness of elder abuse through specifically focusing on the orthopaedic setting.