Press Release

Statement by Minister Power to mark International Day on Elder Abuse

Mr Sean Power TD, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Older People, in acknowledging International Day on Elder Abuse, has emphasised the importance of protecting our vulnerable older people to ensure the highest possible quality of life for them. The Minister said that his Department was working on two important areas which will have significant impact in improving standards in residential care for older people.

The first is the Health Bill, 2006 which provides for the establishment of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Office of the Chief Inspector of Social Services, as an office within HIQA, on a statutory basis.

Secondly, a Working Group has been established by the Department to develop the standards for residential care settings for older people. Membership of the Group comprises officials from the Department, the Health Service Executive, the Social Services Inspectorate and the Irish Health Service Accreditation Board. The Group is developing standards for the inspection of both public and private residential care for older people. A draft document is nearing completion and will be circulated to interested and appropriate parties in the summer.

The standards being developed will be national standards for all residential care settings for older people. These standards will be core standards that apply to all residential settings where older people are cared for and will be based on legislation, regulation, health policy, research findings and best practice.

The Minister added that the HSE also established a Working Group on Nursing Home Inspections last year and it has now reported. Priority is being given to the appointment of dedicated multi-disciplinary inspection teams whose remit covers all aspects of nursing home inspections, registrations and investigations. The HSE is also committed to publishing inspection reports on nursing homes and these are expected to be published from mid-July onwards.

The Minister referred to the report “Protecting our Future” which details his Department’s policy on elder abuse. He said that a total of €2 million was allocated to the HSE in Budget 2006 to address the issue of elder abuse. He added that this funding will facilitate the implementation of the full range of recommendations, including staffing requirements, contained in the Report, and will also provide for the development of a research function in this area. The Minister acknowledged the work being carried out by the Implementation Group on Elder Abuse, chaired by Professor Des O’Neill. He also complimented the work of the HSE in implementing the Report, including training of over 7,800 staff in elder abuse awareness, and the appointment by the HSE of 30 new Elder Abuse Officers.