Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults
All adults have the right to be safe and to live a life free from abuse. All persons are entitled to this right, regardless of their circumstances. It is the responsibility of all service providers, statutory and non-statutory, to ensure that, service users are treated with respect and dignity, have their welfare promoted and receive support in an environment in which every effort is made to promote welfare and to prevent abuse.” ‘Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse – National Policy and Procedures’.
In December 2014, the HSE launched its safeguarding policy for older persons or persons with a disability that, as a result of physical or intellectual impairment, may be at risk of abuse.
The “Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse – National Policy and Procedures”, which applies to all HSE and HSE funded services, outlines a number of principles to promote the welfare of vulnerable people and safeguard them from abuse. These include a requirement that all services must have a publicly declared “No Tolerance” approach to any form of abuse and must promote a culture which supports this ethos.
Some of the principles underpinning the policy include:
- Respect for human rights
- A person centred approached to care and services
- Promotion of advocacy
- Respect for confidentially
- Empowerment of individuals
- A collaborative approach
There are a number of different types of abuse.
- Physical Abuse includes slapping, hitting, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.
- Sexual Abuse includes rape and sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the vulnerable person has not consented, or could not consent, or into which he or she was compelled to consent.
- Psychological Abuse includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation, or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.
- Financial or Material Abuse includes theft, fraud, exploitation; pressure in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions; or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
- Institutional Abuse may occur within residential care and/or acute settings including nursing homes, acute hospitals, and any other in-patient settings and may involve, for example, poor standards of care, rigid routines or inadequate responses to complex needs.
- Neglect and Acts of Omission include ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition and/or heating.
- Discriminatory Abuse includes ageism, racism, sexism, that based on a person’s disability and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.
- Institutional abuse may occur within residential care and acute settings including nursing homes, acute hospitals and any other in-patient settings, and may involve poor standards of care, rigid routines and inadequate responses to complex needs.
All vulnerable people have a right to be protected against abuse and to have any concerns regarding abusive experiences addressed. They have a right to be treated with respect and to feel safe, regardless of the setting in which they live. If anyone has a concern about abuse or neglect of a vulnerable person in a HSE or HSE funded residential facility, they should report it to a health care professional (e.g. public health nurse, physiotherapist, GP etc.) or the Safeguarding and Protection Teams .
In addition, the HSE has appointed a confidential recipient who will receive and report concerns of abuse or neglect in confidence. The confidential recipient is Ms. Leigh Gath and she can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or LoCall 1890 1000 14.
A National Office was established in December 2005 in accordance with the HSE’s Social Care Division Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse National Policy & Procedures. The core function of the office is to oversee the implementation, monitoring, review and ongoing evaluation of the Safeguarding Policy as well as coordinating development and roll out of safeguarding training.
The HSE are one of the agencies involved in the National Safeguarding Committee which launched a Strategic Plan 2017-2021 to guide its work to safeguard vulnerable adults over the next five years on Tuesday 20th Dec. The Committee is a multi-agency and inter-sectoral body independently chaired by Patricia Rickard-Clarke, a solicitor and former Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission. The ongoing work of the committee can be viewed on its newly launched website
Tel: 061 461 165 (9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday) or the HSE Information Line on 1850 24 1850 (8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Saturday).