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Sage refers concerns to UN Committee July 25, 2017

Up to 20,000 people likely to have felt the impact of the work of Sage in 2016

 After almost 3 years in operation as a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults and older people Sage decided in June 2017 that the issues it was encountering needed to be brought to the attention of a key UN Committee.

UNCAT, the UN committee which addresses torture, inhuman and degrading treatments and seeks to call states to account was sent a submission detailing concerns with regard to deprivation of liberty, chemical restraint, unnecessary use of incontinence wear and ‘Nightingale Wards’ where people eat their dinner on one side of a curtain while someone uses a commode on the other.  “This is the grimmer side of our republic” said former Law Reform Commissioner Patricia Rickard-Clark at the launch of Sage’s Annual Report for 2016.

On June 24th 2014 Sage was established by a Memorandum of Agreement between the HSE and The Atlantic Philanthropies under the governance of Third Age.  “The social investment of The Atlantic Philanthropies and the brave act of the HSE to co-fund the service allowed our service to be established” said Ms Rickard-Clarke. “As the funding from Atlantic Philanthropies ends the next step is to ensure the sustainable development of Sage as an independent support and advocacy service over the coming years” she said.

Detailing the work of Sage in 2016 the manager Mervyn Taylor said that the data on activities and outcomes and the detailed case examples provided in the Annual Report highlighted the importance of people who are vulnerable having access to independent advocacy.  “Everyone can at some stage and to some extent be an advocate but when the going gets tough people need a service which is independent of family, provider and systems interests” he said.  Pointing to the almost 800 complex cases handled through the service, the 2,850 people who had engaged in workshops on the challenges of new decision-making capacity legislation, the 584 visits to hospitals and nursing homes and 4,057 logged calls and case related events Taylor said that it has been suggested that as a result of all of their activities Sage may well have impacted on the lives and practice of up to 20,000 people.

“The issues addressed by Sage are sometimes simple and resolved with information and a little support.  Many times, however, they are complex and extremely challenging.  I want to pay tribute to over 150 people who volunteered with Sage at some stage during 2016.   The work of Sage is not for the faint-hearted and sometimes people find it hard to believe the complexity of the issues we engage with.  Sage is there for the individual vulnerable adult and older person who needs our support.  Even if a few people or organisations sometimes feel uncomfortable when we ‘speak truth to power’ we are charged with addressing the systemic as well as the individual issues” he said.

Chair of the National Advisory Committee Patricia Rickard-Clarke pointed to the legislative change that is slowly coming.  “The full scale commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which has been too long delayed, will begin in the coming months once the new Director of the Decision Support Service is in place.  The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 will emerge a year late, but it will emerge nevertheless, and it will be a major disappointment if the practice of independent advocacy and the issues of deprivation of liberty and chemical restraint are not addressed.  The Safeguarding Adults Bill 2017 proposed by independent Senator Colette Kelleher has received all party support.  What is now required is cross cabinet support and a determination to act rather than simply focus on high profile issues from the past” she said.

Reminding people of why Sage existed Mervyn Taylor said “we do well to remember that the origins of Sage and the factors that will determine its future are rooted in scandals; Leas Cross; Aras Attracta; Portlaoise Hospital. The model of response that Sage is determined to build is one in which a core of paid staff are supported by trained volunteer Sage Representatives.  We are more than the sum of our parts.  As our Annual Report states – Sage is not just a service – it is a citizens movement”.


For further Information contact: John Gallagher 087 9369888


About Sage

The right to have your voice heard and to participate in making decisions which affect you is a fundamental principle in a democratic society. It is about independence and interdependence. It is a principle simply stated as “Nothing about you /without you”.   Many people face challenges to their independence due to physical or mental illness, intellectual, physical or sensory disability, lack of family and community supports or an inability to access public services that meet their needs. Some people communicate differently and with difficulty and some people slowly lose their ability to make and communicate decisions as a condition, such as dementia, develops over time.  Some are abused and exploited because of their vulnerability.  In circumstances where people may be vulnerable, or have to depend on others, there is a need to ensure that their rights, freedoms and dignity are promoted and protected. Through support and advocacy the will and preference of a person can be heard and acted on; independently of family, service provider or systems interests.

Overview of  Work in 2016

Estimated number of people who benefited from the work of Sage                       20,000

Participation in workshops on legal & capacity issues                                              2,850

Number of engagements with service providers and stakeholders                           911

Regular visits to hospitals and nursing homes                                                              584

Nursing home and hospital meetings facilitated                                                          258

Advocacy cases                                                                                                                     798

MoUs agreed                                                                                                                         138

Logged calls & case related events                                                                                4,057

Case updating events                                                                                                       2,812

Information & Advice Line / Rapid Response                                                              292

Volunteers who contributed during the year                                                                 151

Staff                                                                                                                          13 FT  7 PT

Website visits                                                                                                                 46,217

Emails sent                                                                                                                     47,990

Mobile calls made                                                                                                         64,615

Kms travelled by staff (excluding volunteers)                                                       172,566


Types of work undertaken by Sage

  • Advocating for adequate Home Care Packages and for a comprehensive and equitable system of home care support and oversight of home care providers.
  • Challenging unnecessary restrictions on people’s liberties and the use of ‘convenience medication’.
  • Promoting self-advocacy and professional development through workshops on capacity and decision making, enduring power of attorney and advance healthcare directives.
  • Supporting people to return home from hospital or care centre.
  • Assisting people to maintain control of their income, benefits or property.
  • Supporting family members in organising care for people with advancing dementia.
  • Advocating with and for people with intellectual disabilities who are trying to develop a life with meaningful activities after they leave a congregated setting.
  • Observing or facilitating meetings of residents, family members or staff in nursing homes.
  • Promoting awareness of Sage’s services in communities, General Practices, day centres, nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and hostels.

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