Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

Print page
  • The National Safeguarding Committee
  • World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15 June 2017)


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

The National Safeguarding Committee, on which the Department is represented, has four main objectives over the next five years:

  • 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’s public awareness campaign on Safeguarding will commence on 5 June 2017 on radio, newspaper and online media.

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.


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 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 abuse including 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 omission including 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 HSE is the competent authority for the reporting of Elder Abuse through its 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 Social Protection
College Road, Sligo, Ireland.

Tel: 00353-71-9193260 (direct)

Last modified:02/06/2017