November 13th, 2019:

Safeguarding Ireland today welcomed the publication of Guidance on upholding Human Rights in Irish health and social care settings, but said legislation is urgently needed to underpin it.

Guidance on a Human Rights-based Approach in Health and Social Care Services was published today by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) with support from Safeguarding Ireland – to help inform health and social care staff in their work.

It also provides a useful reference for people who are using services, their families, carers, friends and for advocates.

It explains how to take a Human Rights based approach to day-to-day care decisions on staffing levels, treatment, physical restraint, personal care, end of life and privacy.

Safeguarding Ireland Chairperson Patricia Rickard-Clarke said the document informs organisations and professionals on how to ensure that people are treated compassionately by referencing Human Rights principles such as Fairness, Respect, Equality, Dignity and Autonomy.

However, she said this approach needs effective Adult Safeguarding legislation to ensure that it is delivered on. “Safeguarding Ireland fully supports this Guidance. However, it also needs to be backed-up by the urgent commencement of the 2015 Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act,” she said.

The Assisted Decision Making Act was enacted in 2015 and its implementation has been in development since then. It is scheduled to commence next year and includes an overhaul of the wardship system and strengthens supports for decision-making for vulnerable people.

“Safeguarding Ireland calls for the Assisted Decision Making Act to be implemented – in full – in 2020. Key elements which should be fast-tracked for commencement include: Arrangements for the making of Enduring Powers of Attorney; a legal framework for Advance Healthcare Directives; and Definitions of deprivation of liberty.”

In tandem an Adult Safeguarding Bill, led by Senator Collette Kelleher, has been in development since 2017. Ms Rickard-Clarke said urgency and momentum is needed across many Government Departments to complete, enact and implement this Bill.

She said it should be underpinned by a Regulatory Framework giving HIQA, the Central Bank and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection powers to ensure that Safeguarding legislation is adhered to.

Safeguarding Ireland also welcomed the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the AC case which is timely with the publication of this Guidance document on upholding human rights in health and social care settings.

Ms Rickard-Clarke said: “It is the first judicial case at Supreme Court level where the constitutional rights of a person subject to a wardship application have been upheld. The court emphasised that the voice of the person should be heard and respected. This case sets down a welcome precedent in this regard.”

More information at

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.

Guidance on a Human Rights-based Approach in Health and Social Care Services and support materials can be downloaded at, or the Safeguarding Ireland website.

Safeguarding Ireland 

Safeguarding Ireland was established by the HSE in 2015 in recognition of the fact that safeguarding vulnerable people from abuse cannot be addressed by any one agency working in isolation, but rather by the key agencies working collaboratively with a common goal – to ensure that adults who may be vulnerable are safeguarded.