Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the new leader of Fine Gael and prospective Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to definitively commit to tackling all forms of abuse of adults including elder abuse. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Journal.ie this morning highlighted shocking figures that show almost 8000 cases of alleged abuse or neglect of adults were reported to the HSE in 2016:
“I am delighted that these figures are finally receiving some kind of attention and welcome the work of the National Safeguarding Committee (NSC) which is starting a nationwide campaign to increase awareness of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults.
In 2016 I appealed to the HSE and the Minister for Health Simon Harris to increase the number of HSE Case Workers assigned to process and combat elder abuse
This followed a Private Members Bill I had submitted in 2015 dealing with the prevention and punishment of Elder Abuse.
Since then I am not aware of any significant increase in resource allocations that would allow us to say that greater inroads have been made in terms of tackling this specific kind of crime.
I am informed by the HSE Head of Operations and Service Improvement Services for Older People that only 31 Senior Case Workers for the Protection of Older People (SCWs) were employed on a Local Health Office area basis the years 2011-2015.
This is clearly not an acceptable level of staff numbers when one considers that from 2007 to 2013 alone there over 13,000 referrals of such abuse recorded and assessed by Senior Case Workers in the HSE. It is generally understood that this number is only the tip of the iceberg.
The elderly are as we know a distinctly vulnerable group. To that extent we must target our legislative and legal resources at shoring up all the defences necessary that will give them greater protection and security of mind.
To that end I can only hope that the new government will take on board the provisions outlined in my Private Members Bill (Vulnerable Persons Bill 2015) and wake up to the urgency of this issue once and for all,” concluded Deputy McGrath.