Call for national initiative to increase use of Attorneys and Advance Healthcare Directives
Safeguarding Ireland today called for the introduction of a State Scheme to help more Adults to ‘Think Ahead’ – and increase use of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directives.
Safeguarding Ireland said this would help to reduce and prevent abuse of vulnerable adults – and also save the State social service costs.
Speaking in advance of World Elder Abuse Day (Saturday, June 15th), Chairperson Patricia Rickard Clarke said that the Government should incentivise a dedicated scheme involving community-based organisations, Solicitors and GPs.
Recent research, commissioned by Safeguarding Ireland, showed that just 6% of adults had appointed an Attorney under Enduring Power of Attorney, and just 8% had discussed a preferred place of care.
Ms Rickard Clarke said: “When people don’t have their choices, preferences and decisions legally stated – and they have a life-changing accident, become seriously ill, or frail due to age – they are reliant on the honesty of friends and family. In most cases people’s wishes are upheld by their loved ones.
“However, in too many cases this does not happen. Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to 10% of people are dishonest in how they manage a vulnerable person’s money. That is why it is very important for all of us to appoint an Attorney and also put in place an Advance Healthcare Directive.
“Many people don’t put these in place because of the cost, the time it takes, or because they find it legalistic and difficult to understand.
“There is an opportunity to develop an approach whereby community and representative organisations engage with their members to put an Enduring Power of Attorney or healthcare plan in place, which could then be provided at nominal cost and with convenience via an agreed protocol with Solicitors who are registered for the Scheme.
“The State could both provide supports for organisations to promote take-up to their members – and also pay an agreed top up contribution to Solicitors.
“GPs could also have a recognised role in helping patients put in place an Advance Healthcare Directive.
“More planning ahead would also reduce complex disputes within families. This would save significant costs for State services in tacking problems after they emerge,” Ms Rickard Clarke said.
Appointing an Attorney under Enduring Power of Attorney means that, in addition to their Will, people appoint legal and financial decision-making powers to a chosen person to make decisions for them at a time when they may lack decision-making capacity. Putting in place an Advance Healthcare Directive means officially recording future healthcare preferences such as place of care, or treatment preferences. This would then inform care decisions at a time when a person may lack decision-making capacity.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.
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Safeguarding Ireland brings together 30 national organisations from public services, legal and financial services, the health and social care professions, regulatory authorities and NGOs all working together to protect vulnerable adults. (Members include the HSE, HIQA, An Garda Shoshana, An Post, financial organisations and patient, disability and carer NGOs). Safeguarding Ireland was established by the HSE in 2015 in recognition of the fact that safeguarding vulnerable people from abuse cannot be addressed by any one agency working in isolation, but rather by the key agencies working collaboratively with a common goal – to ensure that adults who may be vulnerable are safeguarded.