People are being encouraged to help safeguard vulnerable adults over the Christmas period.
Safeguarding means protecting people's health, wellbeing and human rights, enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. Those at risk include people with brain injuries, mental illnesses and disabilities, as well as frail older people.
Safeguarding Ireland is a coalition of national organisations in the health, social and financial sectors, that work together to protect vulnerable adults. It is calling on the families and friends of vulnerable individuals to take special care of their loved ones this festive season.
"Good safeguarding is about reaching out and doing what we can to ensure people's rights, choices and dignity are respected, particularly if they are vulnerable. Christmas is an opportunity to reflect and ensure that we are properly safeguarding adults in our lives who are vulnerable," commented Safeguarding Ireland chairperson, Patricia Rickard Clarke.
She pointed out that while most families, friends and carers ‘selflessly support loved ones', some do not.
"If people suspect any abuse, they should call it out and report it," Ms Rickard Clarke said.
Figures from the HSE National Safeguarding Office show that in 2017, it received 10,120 concerns about alleged adult abuse, including physical, sexual and financial abuse.
Meanwhile, looking to 2019, Ms Rickard Clarke encouraged all people to think ahead and plan for their future.
"Safeguarding Ireland encourages all adults to make a New Year's resolution to put in place an enduring power of attorney. This gives financial and legal decision making responsibility to a chosen and most trusted person. Other important decisions include notifying of future healthcare preferences and advance healthcare directives," she said.
Recent research carried out by Safeguarding Ireland revealed a serious lack of planning on many people's part. Just 8% of adults had discussed with loved ones where they would like to be cared for if they developed a serious or long-term illness, while only 6% had legally nominated an enduring power of attorney.
Meanwhile, only 27% of people had made a will and just 11% knew what an advance healthcare directive was. Sometimes referred to as a living will, this is a legal document in which a person states what actions should be taken in relation to their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves, such as because of illness.
Information on how to plan ahead is available here.
Anyone with concerns about adult abuse can contact one of nine regional HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams here