Independent TD Mattie McGrath is set to call on the government to definitively commit to tackling all forms of financial abuse of adults, specifically those related to the phenomenon of elder abuse. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of a scheduled two hour Dáil debate this coming Thursday on his Vulnerable Persons Bill 2015:
“The primary purpose of my Bill is to protect, on reasonable grounds, the financial autonomy of vulnerable persons, specifically elderly people, who lack the reasonable mental and physical capacity, to guard against such abuse.
While I had hoped that the Bill would have been selected well before now, that was something outside of my control and down to the way PMB’s are chosen in the Oireachtas lottery system.
Having said that; I still think it is still very timely that we are about to have this debate given the persistence of the problem and the often hidden and manipulative manner in which these abuses are carried out.
We know from the most recent data that at least 8000 cases of alleged abuse or neglect of adults were reported to the HSE.
We also know from a Red C survey carried out by the National Safeguarding Committee (NSC) that 16% of people admitted that they knew a vulnerable adult who was close to them that had experienced financial abuse.
The survey also found that 1 in 3 people believe vulnerable adult abuse to be widespread, suggesting the public believe there is a problem around safeguarding those who are limited in their ability to protect themselves.
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.
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 was also 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 was the same period during which there were over 13,000 referrals of such abuse recorded and assessed by Senior Case Workers in the HSE.
We need to know what the government and specifically what the Minister has done to address this gaping deficit in services.
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 government will take on board the provisions outlined in my Vulnerable Persons Bill and wake up to the urgency of this issue once and for all,” concluded Deputy McGrath.