Press Release

Minister Harney welcomes the 2006 Annual Report of the Elder Abuse National Implementation Group to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 15 June 2007

The Elder Abuse National Implementation Group today (Friday, 15th June) published its 2006 annual report to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Welcoming the annual report, the Minister for Health and Children noted that “it is estimated that 3-5% of older people in the community are subjected to various forms of elder abuse: physical, psychological, sexual or financial. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day presents an opportunity to publicly highlight the phenomenon of elder abuse, and is an occasion for reflection on the measures needed to prevent elder abuse and to deal with it when it does happen. I am happy to say that the Health Service Executive is in the process of putting in place staff and procedures to tackle elder abuse, in particular through the recruitment of Senior Case Workers in each local health area to investigate elder abuse allegations”.

Professor Des O’Neill, chairman of the Elder Abuse National Implementation Group and author of the Leas Cross report, said that “tackling elder abuse requires a societal response. The job of the Elder Abuse National Implementation Group is to guide the implementation of policy on elder abuse. Some good work was done by members of the Group during 2006, and that work is continuing in 2007”.

Priorities for the Group in 2007 and 2008 will include procedures to deal with financial abuse, the establishment of a national research centre for the protection of older people, the development of a public awareness campaign, and elder abuse education and training. Proposed new legislation on guardianship of vulnerable adults will include older people with impaired capacity. Existing policy on elder abuse, now five years old, will also be reviewed to determine whether any new policy measures need to be taken.

Professor O’Neill concluded by saying that “elder abuse is a problem that could face any of us as we age. Everyone involved in the care of vulnerable older people needs to be vigilant of the signs of elder abuse: the new HSE structures for the reporting and investigation of elder abuse are an important step in the right direction”.

Background

The Elder Abuse National Implementation Group was established by the Department of Health and Children in 2003 to guide the implementation of the recommendations, both health and non-health-related, contained in a 2002 report called Protecting our Future.

Elder abuse is defined in Protecting our Future as “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights”.

Based on studies in other developed countries, it is estimated that between 3 and 5% of people living in the community may be suffering from elder abuse in Ireland. These figures do not include the incidence of abuse in institutions.

The recommendations contained in Protecting our Future span a number of areas, including HSE structures and procedures to respond to allegations of elder abuse, legislative issues, support for carers, professional education, training, public awareness, financial abuse, advocacy and the establishment of a national elder abuse research centre.

View The Report