Following announcement 15.6.23 of the 2022 Annual Report of the HSE National Safeguarding Office.
Progress needed on Legislation and a National Authority for adult safeguarding
Safeguarding Ireland has today welcomed publication of the HSE National Safeguarding Office 2022 service report which shows an increase in reporting – however the group also called for major gaps in adult safeguarding to be addressed.
Chairperson Patricia Rickard-Clarke today welcomed an 18% increase in the total number of safeguarding concerns (13,700) reported to the HSE National Safeguarding Office (NSO) in 2022 compared to 2021.
Today on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2023, the report showed that elder abuse concerns exceeded 4,000 concerns for the first time since data was first collected by the HSE and there was a 32% increase in safeguarding reports regarding persons aged over 80 compared to 2021.
Ms Rickard-Clarke said: “We have long known there is major under-reporting of all forms adult abuse in Ireland. Research commissioned by Safeguarding Ireland in 2020 found that one third of all adults said that they had first-hand experience of a form adult abuse in their own lives. The increase in reporting to the HSE NSO indicates a higher level of awareness and of people taking action.”
She encouraged anyone who has a safeguarding, or elder abuse concern, to contact the Gardai or their local HSE Safeguarding Team.
“If there is an immediate risk of serious harm to you or another person it should be reported immediately to the Gardaí by calling 999 or 112. If there is serious but not immediate risk the local Garda station should be contacted, or the Garda confidential line at 1800 666 111.
“For an ongoing concern, there are nine HSE Safeguarding Teams across the country who are available to support people and families to address difficult circumstances and ensure that people’s safety, welfare and rights are upheld. People can call the HSE at 1800 700 700 and speak to an agent who will take details and contact the local Safeguarding and Protection Team.”
However, Ms Rickard-Clarke also highlighted gaps in safeguarding services which need to be addressed.
“Safeguarding Ireland looks forward to the long-awaited report of the Law Reform Commission on a legislative framework for adult safeguarding legislation, which is due to be published later this year. Much of what the framework will set out was already included in the 2017 Adult Safeguarding Bill, which was strongly supported in the Oireachtas – but never progressed or enacted.
“Safeguarding Ireland hopes that publication of the LRC framework will reinvigorate this work and provide a pathway to progress the 2017 Adult Safeguarding Bill. We also need the establishment of a National Adult Safeguarding Authority, preferably under the Dept of Justice.
“There are more immediate changes which should also be progressed including: to extend coercive control legislation to include non-intimate relationships; to address a lack of data sharing between agencies and a coordinated over-arching 24/7 system for reporting and recording safeguarding concerns.
* Public opinion – it is worth noting that a Safeguarding Ireland commissioned survey in 2020 also found that 91% of people favoured stronger safeguarding laws and 85% supported the setting up of a national body dedicated to safeguarding adults.
More information at www.safeguardingireland.org.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.
Safeguarding Ireland promotes safeguarding of adults to protect them from all forms of abuse by persons, organisations and institutions and to deliver a national plan for promoting their welfare.
Safeguarding means putting measures in place to uphold our rights, to support our health and wellbeing, to reduce our risk of harm – and to empower us to protect ourselves. Safeguarding involves ourselves, our families, services and professionals all working together to prevent and respond to adult abuse, neglect or coercive control. Safeguarding means empowerment – that if we face challenges with our capacity, ability or independence our decisions are supported and respected.