Friday June 12, 2020:

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a quarter to think about their future care – and Safeguarding Ireland encouraged older people to act on and document these wishes.

To mark World Elder Abuse Awareness day, which takes place this Monday, Safeguarding Ireland called for a stronger focus on safeguarding during COVID-19 ­– and said older and vulnerable adults would be better safeguarded by having their care preferences recorded.

In research of 1,001 Irish adults carried out by RED C, just 4% of respondents said they had completed the Think Ahead form and 4% an Advance Healthcare Directive, and the levels were not significantly higher among older people. A further 6% said they were considering taking these steps prior to the pandemic.

However, 23% reported that as a result of COVID-19 they had been prompted to consider completing a Think Ahead form – and 14% to consider completing an Advance Healthcare Directive.

Chairperson Patricia Rickard-Clarke urged people to not only think about but also to document these important decisions – to write or type them and store carefully.

“Planning ahead ­– for if people became unable to make decisions or live independently in the future – helps people’s wishes to be respected and also safeguards against the risk of abuse. It is also better for families, loved ones and healthcare professionals.”

“Clear guidance on what to do is provided by the Think Ahead form at www.thinkahead.ie which has been developed to enable people to collate their important decisions in one document.”

Ms Rickard-Clarke encouraged more people to act on the greater consideration which COVID-19 had caused – and to now follow through by documenting their wishes.

“The theme of World Elder Abuse Day 2020 is to ‘safeguard during and after COVID-19’. It may not always be possible to deliver on all of our wishes, but by being accessible our preferences can inform important health and care decisions, and this is an important part of safeguarding. If people have difficulty recording these decisions by themselves, a trusted person should assist,” she said.

Think Ahead is a record of personal information, emergency contacts, health insurance, culture preferences, religious beliefs, place of care wishes, organ donation wishes and financial information. It can also include an Advance Healthcare Directive which records preferences on treatment approaches, surgery, medicines and resuscitation. Think Ahead is an initiative of the Irish Hospice Foundation.

More information, including the RED C ‘Plan Ahead’ research, can be viewed at www.safeguardingireland.org.

Safeguarding means living safely, free from abuse or neglect. It means our choices, particularly if we are vulnerable, are clearly heard and respected.

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Safeguarding Ireland / Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.