Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

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  • World Elder-Abuse Day Friday 15 June 2018
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults – The National Safeguarding Committee



World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, held on June 15 each year, is in support of the United Nations International Plan of Action which recognises the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights concern. The day came about as a result of UN Resolution 66/127. It serves as a call to action for individuals, organisations and communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect and the exploitation of older people.


Types of Elder Abuse
The different types of abuse may be categorised as follows:-

  • Psychological abuse including 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.
  • Physical abuse - including slapping, pushing, hitting, kicking, misuse of medication, inappropriate restraint (including physical and chemical restraint) or sanctions.
  • Financial or material abuseincluding theft; fraud; exploitation; pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance, or financial transactions; or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
  • Neglect (including self-neglect) and acts of omissionincluding ignoring medical or physical care needs, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.
  • Discriminatory abuse including 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.
  • Sexual abuse including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the older adult has not consented, or could not consent, or into which he or she was compelled to consent.


Reporting abuse
The Health Service Executive is the competent authority for the reporting of Elder Abuse through the HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams, but the Department will also act on any reports it receives of alleged abuse of its pension/benefit recipients, consulting or involving as appropriate other relevant agencies such as the HSE or An Garda Siochána.

Investigations of alleged abuse are coordinated by a nominated officer in the Department: 

Martin Keville
Assistant Principal Officer
State pension non-contributory
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
College Road, Sligo, Ireland.

Tel: 00353-71-9193260 (direct)



In December, 2014, the Health Service Executive published its Policy Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse - National Policy and Procedures which encompasses both elder abuse, and concerns of abuse relating to people availing of disability services.  

One of the structures involved in furthering the safeguarding policy and agenda is the National Safeguarding Committee, which is a multi-agency committee and inter-sectoral body with an independent chair. It was established by the HSE in December 2014 in recognition of the fact that safeguarding vulnerable people from abuse is a matter that cannot be addressed by any one agency working in isolation, but rather by a number of agencies and individuals working collaboratively with a common goal.  The NSC brings together key players in public services, legal and financial services, the health and social care professions, regulatory authorities and NGOs representing older people, people with disabilities and carers.  All have come together with one objective in mind – to ensure that adults who may be vulnerable are safeguarded. The Committee, on which the Department is represented, has four main objectives:

  • Raising public awareness and understanding;
  • Supporting and promoting the protection of people’s rights
  • Informing and influencing Government Policy and
  • Building the Committee’s capacity and capability.


The NSC published its Strategic Plan 2017-2021 in November 2016, followed by the Adult Safeguarding Bill 2017 in May 2017.                                    


Health Service Executive Safeguarding Teams:
The Safeguarding section of the HSE's website provides details of the NSC’s policy, together with elder abuse publications. Please see also the details of the HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams which are located in each of the Community Health Care Organisations.


Other useful websites/resources:
The National Centre for the Protection of Older People and its
research report  Financial Abuse of Older People: A Review

Keep Control : Safeguarding your Finances in Later Life provides useful information to help understand the challenges faced by people as they age, and to empower them to take preventative steps.

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland has produced a very useful and informative ‘Guide to Safeguarding your Money now and in the Future’ which can be viewed at the Downloads link opposite, and which gives valuable information to help you safeguard your finances.

Last modified:03/07/2018