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“European collaboration needed to develop advocacy services” January 8, 2018

New culture needed to respect the ‘will and preference’ of vulnerable adults

An understandable preoccupation with Brexit is distracting attention from the need to develop the social agenda of the European Union and to provide greater protection for people at risk, according to Sage the support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults and older people.

“If charity begins at home, and we share a common European home, then it is essential that we develop a European Union wide approach to the promotion, protection and defense of the rights and dignity of people at risk” said Mervyn Taylor, Manager of Sage.  “The EU has been a force for progress in Ireland particularly, but not exclusively, in the economic area” he said and there now needs to be a “renewed focus on the social agenda including a focus on how best to safeguard vulnerable adults and older people at risk”.

“If we put half the effort we put into commemoration of events 100 years ago into the implementation of policies in the here and now we would better serve the ideal of cherishing all the children, and the adults, of the nation equally” he said.

Calling for a renewed sense of urgency in 2018 for the progressing of legislation to safeguard vulnerable adults he noted that the practice of independent advocacy is still not formally recognised in law and that the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 is unlikely to occur for another 18 months.

“Legislation is still awaited to deal with the issue of deprivation of liberty in care settings and concerned citizens and organisations should use the current consultation process to make the case for the right of anyone threatened with deprivation of liberty as part of a social care process to have access to an independent advocate”.

“During 2017 Sage saw some very worrying cases where the old all or nothing status approach to capacity, still in force through the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act of 1871, was being used to deprive people of their liberty and to access necessary services which would have allowed them continue living in their own homes.  It is important to stress that the functional approach to the assessment of capacity, which is already HSE policy, could be reinforced by the immediate commencement of relevant parts of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015”.

“The challenge we face in 2018 and, likely for many years to come, is to develop a new culture based on respect for the ‘will and preference’ of the individual in order to replace the old culture of ‘best interests’ which too often serves the interests of family members and service providers rather than the interests of vulnerable people” said Taylor.

Calling for greater collaboration between providers of advocacy services in Ireland he indicated that “2018 must be the year in which we begin to establish a National Council for Advocacy in Ireland and a European Union wide network to promote collaboration in the development of advocacy services”.

For further information please contact Mervyn Taylor on 086 8227998 and mervyn.taylor@sageadvocacy.ie

Further information on Sage is available at www.SageAdvocacy.ie

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