Statement by Minister for Older People, Máire Hoctor TD on the publication of the HSE’s report Elder Abuse Service Developments 2008
Ms Máire Hoctor TD, Minister for Older People, commenting today on the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) publication of Elder Abuse Service Developments 2008, congratulated the HSE for the significant developments in tackling and preventing elder abuse. The Minister noted the increase in referrals from 927 in 2007 to 1,840 in 2008. She said that this shows that the HSE structures now in place together with the high level attention being given to tackle this unacceptable problem are working. In addition to developing procedures and structures to combat elder abuse in all its forms, the HSE appointed Senior Case Workers to assess suspected cases of elder abuse, implemented a public awareness campaign, established a National Centre for the Protection of Older People and provided a detailed analysis of referrals of alleged abuse in 2008.
The Minister re-iterated the Government’s commitment to the full and proper tackling of elder abuse. Additional funding was made available in 2008 for the public awareness campaign which commenced in November 2008. The purpose of the campaign was to raise consciousness among the public of elder abuse and in particular, awareness of financial abuse of older people. Elder abuse is a societal problem as distinct from a health problem and the latest figures show that financial abuse of older people is one of the most common forms of abuse reported.
Acknowledging the need to develop the elder abuse service further and to work in collaboration with other agencies, the Minister added that policy in relation to elder abuse is being kept under consideration. The current policy framework, Protecting our Future … Report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, is being reviewed. The results of the Review will give critical information on how the current system works and will inform future steps to be taken to address elder abuse.
The Minister welcomes the recent attention given to the problem of elder abuse. Speaking during the Seanad debate on the subject last week, she reiterated the Government’s commitment to improving services for this vulnerable section of society. The Minister urged people to continue to “open their eyes to elder abuse”. Whatever form it may take, it is simply unacceptable. Anyone who feels they are the subject of abuse may report their anxieties to a social worker, a public health nurse, a member of the Garda Síochána, any professional or care worker, their bank or solicitor.
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