What is Safeguarding
Safeguarding means putting measures in place to uphold our rights, support our health and well-being, reduce risk of harm and empower us to protect ourselves.
Safeguarding involves ourselves, our families, services and professionals all working together to prevent reduce and respond to adult abuse, neglect, or course of control.
Adult abuse happens when a person’s rights, independence or dignity are not respected. This can be deliberate or caused by a lack of knowledge or omission of care. However, all circumstances of not respecting a persons rights are abuse.
The following are types of abuse:
Emotional: Intimidation, threats, humiliation, isolation, verbal abuse or being prevented from receiving needed services.
Financial: Unauthorised or improper use of a person’s funds, property, pension, or pressuring a person to transfer their assets.
Physical: Hitting, kicking, pushing, shaking, rough handling, threat of physical force, giving too much or medication mismanagement.
Sexual: Sexual activity to which the person has not consented, could not consent, or felt compelled to consent to.
Organisational: Inadequate care, or systematic poor practice by an organisation.
Online: Internet, email or social media based scamming, bullying, or coercion.
Neglect: When essentials such as food, heating, medication, or hygiene are withheld – and also when a person’s resources are not used for their benefit.
Coercive Control: Making a person dependent but isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviours. It often involves multiple forms of abuse.
Discrimination: Unequal treatment, harassment, or abuse of a person based on the grounds of gender, martial status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion or membership of the Traveller Community.
A Safeguarding Ireland Survey Found…
- 1 in 2 Irish adults claim experience of vulnerable adult abuse.
- Physical abuse of vulnerable adults has been witnessed, or suspected, by 1 in 3 adults.
- Emotional abuse is the most common type with over 1 in 3 having experienced it.
- More than 10,000 cases of alleged abuse are reported to the HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams each year.
How to recognise abuse
- Unexplained bruises, marks, or injuries
- Unusual weight loss
- Dirty, or unsafe living conditions
- Inexplicable shortage of money
- Suspicious addition of names to financial accounts
- Unexpected changes to will, or Power of Attorney.
- Poor hygiene
- Development of bed sores
Who is most at risk?
Abuse can affect any adult at any stage of life – but it is more likely to occur at times of challenge such as:
- Frailty due to age
- A physical or intellectual disability
- An acquired brain injury
- A mental health condition
- Situations of Coercive Control.
Call it out!
Safeguarding Ireland’s advice is – if you suspect abuse – take action and Call it Out.
It is against the law to use another person’s money without their consent. If someone is unable to provide consent, approval to act on their behalf must be legally secured with the bank, State or Post Office.
The prescribing of medication or changes to medical prescriptions can only be carried out by a registered healthcare professional authorised to do so.
It is against the law to lock a person into a room, or strap them to a bed. If a person with dementia needs intensive supervision, professional advice and support should be sought.
Why is ‘Planning Ahead’ important?
Planning ahead is important because it reduces the risk of adult abuse.
It includes steps we can take to safeguard ourselves so that our important decisions about money, property and health are clear and in the care of a person we have chosen and trust for if ever in the future we need help.
Planning ahead not only safeguards ourselves, it also reduces potential for confusion and conflict and tension in families and helps healthcare professionals to know what treatment we would want.
Following are ‘go to steps’ that all of us can take to plan ahead and safeguard.
3 GO TO Steps to ‘Plan Ahead’
1. Make an Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney means giving legal and financial decision-making powers to a chosen person if you lack decision-making capacity. All adults are encouraged to put in place an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
You can phone or email your Solicitor and they can advise you on how best to put an EPA in place. If you need financial assistance, you may qualify for legal aid.
Making an EPA involves setting out your wishes on your money and property and giving decision-making powers to a person you choose for if you are no longer able to make these decisions.
An EPA only comes into effect if in the future you no longer have decision-making capacity.
More information on putting in place an EPA is also available from the Decision Support Service.
You can email email@example.com or call 01 211 9750.
2. Put in Place an Advance Healthcare Directive
The recommended way to plan future healthcare is to put in place an Advance Healthcare Directive, a document that is recognised in law. You can also appoint a Designated Healthcare Representative to be your future voice, should this be required.
In it you can record future healthcare preferences including treatment approches, surgery, medicines and resuscitation. (AHD).
You can talk with your Doctor about making one – and keeping it where it can be easily found.
Also the Irish Hospice Foundation has a helpful resource called The Think Ahead Planning Pack which includes a template that you can follow to complete an Advanced Healthcare Directive. See www.thinkahead.ie or call 01 963 1161.
THINK AHEAD Planning Plack (2022)
(An initiative of the Irish Hospice Foundation)
3. Know about ‘Decision Support Arrangements’
Under a new law (2023) called the Assisted Decision-making Act (ADM), all services including banks and companies have responsibility to presume capacity and to support people to make their own independent decisions by making information and choices accessible and adaptable.
However, in circumstances where there is a challenge with decision-making and support is required the Act includes three levels of decision-making assistance which have legal standing.
The Decision Support Service (DSS) has been set up to register and supervise these arrangements.
These arrangements are:
- A Decision-Making Assistant
- A Co-Decision-Maker
- A Decision-Making representative.
It is important for us all to know about and understand these new services – as they will affect all of us, and our families, at some point in our lives.
More information is at www.decisionsupportservice.ie
Don’t misunderstand ‘Next of Kin’
In circumstances of reduced capacity family members sometimes incorrectly believe that they can access bank accounts, or decide on care or treatment of a relative because they are a ‘next of kin’. This is not true.
A ‘next of kin’ can be an important point of contact, but has no legal standing for a relative’s decision-making unless they have been formally appointed under one of the five legal arrangements identified on this webpage.
To recap these are:
- An Enduring Power of Attorney
- A Designated Healthcare Representative
- A Decision-Making Assistant
- A Co-decision-Maker
- A Decision-Making representative.
Thinking about your wishes, discussing them with people you trust and putting arrangements in place gives clarity so that your rights will be upheld and respected. It also helps all of those around you.
Safeguarding Ireland encourages all adults – even if younger and currently in good health – to plan ahead and safeguard yourself against adult abuse.
2023 – Planning Ahead to Prevent Adult Abuse
Plan Ahead – EPA, Healthcare, Decision-making
Plan Ahead – Make an Enduring Power of Attorney
Plan Ahead – Make an Advance Healthcare Directive
Plan Ahead – Decision Support Arrangements
Plan Ahead – The HSE Safeguarding Service
Plan Ahead – Role of the Circuit Court in Assisted Decision-making
2022 – Reporting and Responding to Adult Abuse
SAFEGUARDING: Prevent Adult Abuse – Decision-Making.
SAFEGUARDING: Respond to Adult Abuse – the HSE.
SAFEGUARIDNG: Respond to Adult Abuse – the Gardaí.
SAFEGUARDING: Future Structures – An Independent Safeguarding Authority.
2021 – Understanding Safeguarding and Adult Abuse
What Is Adult Safeguarding
Different Types of Adult Abuse
Safeguarding Adults with Disabilities
Planning Ahead – Financial
Planning Ahead – Healthcare
Financial Abuse – Banking
Financial Abuse – Money and Budgeting