Individuals and families encouraged to report abuse concerns to HSE Safeguarding Teams
Just 2% of safeguarding concerns reported to the HSE are made directly by those who may have been abused, with almost all concerns reported by third parties.
Safeguarding Ireland today encouraged more people to self-report, if they believe they are experiencing abuse. Safeguarding Ireland Chairperson Patricia Rickard Clarke said that almost all of the cases reported to the HSE are via staff and families – and she called on more adults to come forward and be empowered to report concerns themselves.
“Those most at risk are vulnerable adults such as people who are living with dementia, a brain injury, a mental illness, a learning disability, a physical disability, or a frail older person. Though people may live with reduced capacity – we would encourage them to report their concerns where possible.” Figures for 2017 reported to the HSE National Safeguarding Office showed 10,120 concerns regarding alleged abuse in Ireland with the most common type physical abuse at 37%, followed by psychological 29%, financial abuse 11% and sexual abuse 9%. However, just 2% came directly from those affected.
The HSE National Safeguarding Office is a member of Safeguarding Ireland and works closely with nine Safeguarding and Protection Teams across the country – to whom concerns about people’s protection can be reported. The Teams also provide support and guidance to services working with vulnerable people on the prevention and management of abuse concerns.
National Safeguarding Office General Manager Tim Hanly said greater public awareness is needed: “Our Office together with Safeguarding Ireland is working to increase public awareness of what abuse is. We encourage people themselves, families and friends to report any concerns of abuse to our service.” The www.safeguardingireland.org website includes contact details for each of the nine regionally based HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams.
Patricia Rickard Clarke also encouraged all adults to ‘think ahead’ to safeguard their future: “If today you are not at risk of experiencing abuse, it is important that you take preventative steps and I encourage all adults to ‘think ahead’ and plan for their future. (See Note 1.) “In particular, I would encourage adults to put in place an enduring power of Attorney, which gives financial and legal decision making responsibility to a chosen and most trusted person. Other important decisions include notifying of healthcare preferences, such as place of care and advance healthcare directives.”
Links to helpful ‘Think Ahead’ materials are in the Resources section at www.safeguardingireland.org
Welsh expert highlights importance of voice of families
The importance of individuals’ and families’ voices for effective safeguarding was also highlighted by an international expert at a recent HSE Safeguarding Practitioners Seminar.
Delivering the event's Keynote Address, the National Independent Safeguarding Board for Wales Chair Dr. Margaret Flynn said: “Safeguarding is an art rather than a science. We have an instinctive sense and often know when something is wrong. “Families know a lot about the welfare of their loved one and should be encouraged to speak up if they have a concern. It is also important that there are opportunities to hear the voices of people themselves where possible.
“Social Workers who help vulnerable people should be supported to deal with their cases on an individualised basis rather than being overburdened by policies and form filling. Practitioners need access to competent supervision, which supports them with risk assessment and case management decisions. This achieves far better outcomes than the creation of more policies or paperwork,” Dr. Flynn said.
Ronan Cavanagh, Safeguarding Ireland / Cavanagh Communications.
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Notes to Editor
Safeguarding Ireland was established in December 2015 and brings together key players in the public sector such as the HSE, legal and financial services, the health and social care professions, regulatory authorities, An Garda Síochána and NGOs representing older people, people with disabilities and carers and independent advocacy services. See www.safeguardingireland.org
The Red C research published in October 2018 found that less than half of Irish adults do not have any of the recommended ‘planning for the future’ measures in place. The research found that: