Plan to protect at-risk adults

Zero tolerance of the abuse of vulnerable adults is the priority of the National Safeguarding Committee.
Plan to protect at-risk adults

The independently chaired committee launched a five-year plan yesterday to safeguard vulnerable adults.

Among its 10 aims is a national plan for promoting the welfare of such adults and for protecting them from abuse by persons and institutions.

The committee was established by the former minister of state for disability, equality and mental health, Kathleen Lynch, in December 2015.

It followed the publication, a year earlier, of the HSE’s Safeguarding Policy — Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse.

The health authority said one agency working in isolation could not address the issue.

Organisations and individuals working collaboratively with a common goal were needed, it said.

The multi-agency and inter-sectoral body is chaired by Patricia Rickard-Clarke, a solicitor and former commissioner of the Law Reform Commission.

Ms Rickard-Clarke said a critical task for the committee would be to raise public awareness about safeguarding.

The committee intends publishing a nationwide opinion poll to gauge public awareness and attitudes.

“We are also planning a public awareness campaign to make people think, talk, and, most importantly, act on safeguarding issues,” Ms Rickard-Clarke said.

“Key issues that we are interested in establishing, through our public opinion poll, include how well Irish society protects vulnerable adults.”

The committee has been formally set up with specifically agreed terms of reference.

It met a number of times earlier this year and facilitated a workshop for members to chart the way forward.

Two key roles will be informing and influencing government legislation, policy and procedures, and ensuring complaints and concerns are addressed appropriately.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, justice of the Supreme Court, launched the report in the Law Society in Dublin.

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