* To ask the Minister for Health his views that the work of the Health Service Executive and non-governmental organisations would be strengthened in the area of tackling and preventing elder abuse if legislation was introduced to provide a statutory footing, thereby protecting against abuse at every life stage.
As the Deputy may be aware, Health Service Executive policy on elder abuse is derived from the 2002 report of the Working Group on Elder Abuse, Protecting Our Future and the 2009 Review of that Report. Protecting Our Future defines elder abuse as “A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights.” Elder Abuse is a complex issue and can occur in many forms, including: physical, sexual, psychological, financial, and discriminatory abuse, or neglect. Consequently tackling and preventing elder abuse requires a multifaceted response which may involve working with older people, families, communities, statutory agencies and businesses.
Protections for older people in residential care are strengthened by the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland and underpinned by the Health Act, 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2009.
A number of legal remedies are available to address the issue both in terms of protecting those older people who may be at risk of abusive behaviours, and in terms of prosecuting those responsible for abuse, mistreatment or neglect. Supports and assistance are also available from the Health Service and other Agencies in the case of family breakdown where it would not be appropriate to have legislative interventions.
The Department of Health has no plans to further develop statutory protections for this area at this time.