December 20, 2018:

Safeguarding Ireland has made a Christmas plea encouraging families and friends to take special care to safeguard vulnerable adults during the festive season.

Chairperson Patricia Rickard Clarke said the spirit of Christmas and good adult safeguarding hold a similar message.

“Good safeguarding is about reaching out and doing what we can to ensure people’s rights, choices and dignity are respected – particularly if they are vulnerable. Christmas is an opportunity to reflect and ensure that we are properly safeguarding adults in our lives who are vulnerable.” 

Safeguarding means protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights – and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. 

Those most at risk are vulnerable adults such as people with dementia, a brain injury, a mental illness, a learning disability, a physical disability, or a frail elderly person. 

“While most families, friends and carers selflessly support loved ones and act in their best interests, unfortunately some don’t. If people suspect any abuse, they should call it out and report it,” Ms Rickard Clarke said.

Figures for 2017 reported to the HSE National Safeguarding Office showed 10,120 concerns regarding alleged abuse in Ireland with the most common type physical abuse at 37%, followed by psychological 29%, financial abuse 11% and sexual abuse 9%. For adults 65+ financial abuse increases substantially by up to 25%, with a further increase for adults 80+.

Looking to 2019 Ms. Rickard Clarke encouraged all adults, including those with full capacity, to ‘think ahead’ and to plan for their future. (See Red C research findings in Note 1.) 

“Safeguarding Ireland encourages all adults to make a New Year’s resolution to put in place an Enduring Power of Attorney. This gives financial and legal decision making responsibility to a chosen and most trusted person. Other important decisions include notifying of future healthcare preferences and advance healthcare directives.”

Anyone with concerns about adult abuse can contact one of nine regionally based HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams. The website includes contact details for each of the HSE Teams and links to materials to help plan ahead and safeguard the future. 

Further information

Ronan Cavanagh, Safeguarding Ireland / Cavanagh Communications.

(086) 317 9731 /

T: @safeguardingire #safeguardingire / F: safeguardingire

Note 1

Red C research launched by Safeguarding Ireland in October 2018 found that less than half of Irish adults do not have any of the recommended ‘planning for the future’ measures in place. The research found that: 

  • 6% of sampled adults (over the age of 18) had legally nominated a family member, or friend to be their Attorney (under Enduring Power of Attorney) to make legal and financial decisions, should they become unable to do so.
  • 8% had discussed a preferred place of care (at home, or nursing home) with family, friends, or an appointed Attorney for if they developed a serious, or long-term illness.
  • 11% were aware of what an advance healthcare directive is, 22% reported having a personal pension and just 27% had made a will. 

Think Ahead information can be found at