Press Release

Minister Callely Calls for United Effort to Combat Abuse of Elderly

Speaking today at the launch in the Regency Hotel, Dublin, of the Elder Abuse Report “Protecting Our Future“, Minister for Services for Older People, Mr. Ivor Callely T.D., stressed the need for the entire community to unite in tackling the problem of abuse of the elderly. In his speech, the Minister said:

“This report is a very significant body of work and is a blueprint for dealing with abuse of the elderly. While there are, as yet, no definitive statistics on the level of abuse, the pilot projects carried out as part of this exercise have uncovered sufficient cases, both in terms of numbers and seriousness, to justify this whole process.

It is now crucial that we all, as a community, pull together to ensure this most precious, yet vulnerable, sector of society are given concrete proof that we recognise their vulnerability and will, as a society, take action to ensure abuse of the elderly, be that physical, psychological, financial or neglect, will not be tolerated. However, it must be clearly understood that to succeed we must all pull together – Government at a national level, the various Health Boards and service providers and most importantly each and every one of us as individuals.

For my part, I will be immediately be seeking to have this report formally accepted by Government and I am determined to press ahead with its implementation, starting in 2003.”

He went on to describe the publication of the report, produced by a working group chaired by Professor Desmond O´Neill, as a momentous occasion for the older people of this country. Minister Callely called on all citizens to dwell on their attitudes to older people of this country. Minister Callely called on all citizens to dwell on their attitudes to older people and to ensure that inbuilt negative feelings did not take hold.

In his presentation of the Report, Professor O´Neill said that:

In Ireland, between 12,000 and 20,000 people living in the community may be suffering from abuse, neglect and/or maltreatment. The response of the Irish Government, through Protecting Our Future – the Report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, represents a unique project in international terms. No other country has developed national policy and procedures on the ground, and a revision of the policy and procedures after this trial.

Following recognition of Elder Abuse as a significant problem, the Department of Health set up a working group representing a wide range of health, social care and protective agencies. It undertook a process of:

  1. Receiving submissions from the public.
  2. Drafting preliminary policy and procedures.
  3. Selection of 2 community care areas (Limerick and Kerry).
  4. Training of several hundred health and social care workers in these areas.
  5. Trail implementation of preliminary policy and procedures over 6 months.
  6. Formal evaluation of training, policy and procedures.
  7. Using this evaluation to shape final policies and procedures, as outlined in Protecting Our Future.

In essence, the Working Group sees elder abuse as a problem that requires a primarily health and social care response which should be nested within the wider care system. It also recommends the implementation in light of existing government policies (Years Ahead, Quality and Fairness) in respect of support for older people.