Draft standards seek to safeguard adults

Hiqa chief executive, Phelim Quinn

Two of the State’s health watchdogs have launched new national adult safeguarding standards for public consultation.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) and the Mental Health Commission (MHC) believe the draft standards for adult safeguarding will help to “actively” highlight, minimise, and prevent harm.

The aim of the safeguarding is to have measures in place which reduce the risk of harm, promote people’s human rights, health, and wellbeing, and empower people to protect themselves.

Hiqa’s chief executive, Phelim Quinn, said they were working on these standards to ensure adult health and social care services strive to prevent harm arising from abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

When the finalised national standards were published people working in the services would know what was expected of them in reducing the risk of harm to those in their care.

“People who are receiving care should be treated with dignity and respect and receive care and support in a safe environment that is actively working to protect against and prevent harm,” said Mr Quinn.

“The standards are aimed at ensuring a consistent approach to preventing, stopping, and responding to harm as quickly as possible,” he said.

MHC’s interim chief executive, Rosemary Smith, said all adults had a right to be safe and to live a life free from harm.

“The safeguarding standards, published for public consultation, focus on actively highlighting, minimising, and preventing a wide range of potential harm,” she said.

They are designed to ensure that appropriate standards are in place for all services so they deliver appropriate care and support to adults, particularly those at risk of harm.

The draft standards are now the focus of a seven-week consultation. 

Once approved by Health Minister Simon Harris, they will become national standards, placing a responsibility on all publicly funded health and social care services to begin implementing them.

The draft national standards for adult safeguarding are based on national and international evidence and were developed with engagement with a diverse range of informed and interested parties, including an advisory group.

They have been designed to apply to all health and social care services, including residential services for older people and people with a disability, mental health approved centres, mental health community residences, acute hospitals, day care services, care delivered in the home including care delivered by a public health nurse or home support services, general practices, and primary care centres.

Adult safeguarding in Ireland is currently undergoing significant change and there are a number of key pieces of work being undertaken.

The Department of Health is developing a new national adult safeguarding policy for the health and social care sector.

The policy being developed by the department will assist in framing the development of safeguarding legislation.

The Health Service Executive expects to publish its revised safeguarding policy towards the end of this year.

The public consultation on the draft adult safeguarding standards will run until 5pm on Wednesday, September 19, and more information is available on www.hiqa.ie and www.mhcirl.ie.

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