Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has backed calls from Safeguarding Ireland for a Safeguarding Authority, among other measures, to clamp down on abuse, neglect and coercive control.
Teachta Cullinane said that a series of policy and legislative reforms are needed to protect adults at risk of abuse, neglect, and coercion.
He said that adult safeguarding legislation is urgently needed, as well as stronger regulation in the social care sector, but that reforms must also address risks to adults from family, neighbours, and others who may perpetrate abuse, neglect or coercion outside of just the health and social care sector.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Safeguarding Ireland’s report ‘Identifying Risks – Sharing Responsibilities’ is an important contribution to the debate on enhancing safeguarding measures to protect people at risk of abuse, neglect or coercion.
“The reality of abuse, neglect and coercive control across society is staggering, and the scope can be difficult to fully realise with 1-in-6 adults reporting an experience of abuse and at least 1-in-10 experiencing financial abuse.
“Much of this abuse is perpetrated by individuals close to the individual, whether they are living at home or in the care of a nursing home.
“One major lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic is that regulation of the social care sector is not up to standard, and there is a serious lack of protection for isolated individuals whether they are at home or in a care home.
“While the focus to date has been on safeguarding in a health and social care context, Safeguarding Ireland is completely right to call for a much wider response with strong accountability across society.
“Last year, I proposed that an interim authority would be established under HIQA until preparations were finished to establish an independent safeguarding authority with a wide-ranging remit.
“Such an authority needs to be across the range of potential areas for abuse and coercion, and must involve several Departments beyond only Health and Justice.
“I have also proposed a new Office of the Chief Health and Social Care Professional to better regulate and devise policy for the social care sector, and who could drive safeguarding reform across government Departments.”