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Safeguarding Ireland welcomes new standards for health and social care

05 Dec 2019 / regulation Print

Revised social/health care standards for vulnerable

Safeguarding Ireland has welcomed the launch of new standards to improve safeguards for adults using health and social care services, but says that legislation and regulation are needed to underpin it.

The standards aim to help health and social-care services reduce the risk of harm; promote people’s rights, health and wellbeing; and empower people to protect themselves.

Abuse

The organisation promotes safeguarding of vulnerable adults to protect them from all forms of abuse, and is pushing for a national plan to promote their welfare.

National Standards for Adult Safeguarding were launched yesterday (4 December) and jointly developed by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Mental Health Commission (MHC), with approval from the Minister for Health.

Safeguarding Ireland chair Patricia Rickard-Clarke said the standards would help health and social-care services to better safeguard all adults, particularly those who are vulnerable.

Standards

However, she said, they urgently needed to be followed by effective adult safeguarding legislation to ensure that the standards were being adhered to, and fully enforced, and that people were being held accountable when the standards were not being met. 

“Safeguarding Ireland fully supports this guidance. However, it needs to be backed-up by the urgent commencement of the 2015 Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act,” she said.

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act was enacted in 2015, and its implementation has been in development since then. It is scheduled to commence next year, and includes an overhaul of the wardship system.

Decision-making

It also strengthens supports for decision-making for vulnerable people.

“Safeguarding Ireland calls for the Assisted Decision-Making Act to be implemented – in full – in 2020," she said.

Key elements which should be fast-tracked for commencement include: 

  • Arrangements for the making of enduring powers of attorney,
  • A legal framework for Advance Healthcare Directives, and,
  • Definitions of deprivation of liberty. 

In tandem, an Adult Safeguarding Bill, led by Senator Colette Kelleher, has been in development since 2017.

Momentum

Patricia Rickard-Clarke said that momentum was needed to complete, enact and implement the bill, which should be underpinned by a regulatory framework giving HIQA, the Central Bank, and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection powers to ensure that safeguarding legislation is adhered to.

Guidance on a human rights-based approach in health and social care services was published by HIQA last month.

Revised policy

A national adult safeguarding policy for the health sector is being developed by the Department of Health, and the HSE’s national operational adult safeguarding policy is being revised.

The National Standards for Adult Safeguarding and an information leaflet for people using health and social-care services are available at www.hiqa.ie and www.mhcirl.ie.

A user-friendly introduction to the standards is available as an animation on Youtube.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland