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Policy Forum: Self Neglect – balancing safeguarding and autonomy October 30, 2019

Poor personal hygiene, malnourishment and vermin-infested living conditions are among the symptoms of an increasing rate of self-neglect in Ireland’s ageing population.  

Dr. Mary Rose Day, co-author ‘Self-Neglect and Older Adults’, points to our ageing population, rising dementia figures and functional decline as key factors triggering this rise.  Dr. Day, a leading expert in Self-Neglect, Older Adults and Public Health Nursing, led a Sage Advocacy workshop on Self-Neglect in Dublin on Wednesday.
The Workshop looked at balancing ‘safeguarding with autonomy’ in relation to Self-Neglect.  Dr. Day believes a multi-agency approach involving agencies like Sage Advocacy is critical to addressing this complex area.  She cites situations where an individual may appear to be living in appalling conditions from the viewpoint of neighbours and community members.  However, that individual may have full mental capacity and refuse any help.  
483 cases of self-neglect were recorded in Ireland last year (2018*), however the HSE figures only account for the ‘exceptional’ cases and do not portray the true prevalence of what Dr. Day describes as a ‘Hidden illness’.  Dr. Day highlights that cases of self-neglect often only come to light when an individual has a fall or condition that brings them in contact with health services.

Dr. Mary Rose Day lectured at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, University College Cork until 2015, specialising and supervising Research projects on older adults, public health nursing/community nursing, leadership and management. She continues to contribute to postgraduate interdisciplinary training on safeguarding older people.  She currently works as an Independent Nurse Consultant with special interest in Self-Neglect, Older Adults and Public Health Nursing and is a regular speaker at Irish and International Healthcare conferences and symposiums in the area of Self-neglect.   She is a committee member of the All Ireland Gerontolgical Nurses Association and member of the Institute of Community Health Nursing (ICHN) and SIA Society of Nursing and Midwifery. 
Sage Advocacy extend their sincere gratitude to Dr Day for her presentation on Wednesday and her input at our National Team Meeting the following day.  We also warmly welcome Dr Day as the newest member of our Patient Advocacy Advisory Committee. 

Dr Day's presentation is available here

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