The Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch has marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by calling for more protection for older people who are at risk of abuse.

Speaking about the challenges faced by older people, the Commissioner said:

“Each year, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day reminds us of the ongoing abuse too many older people face on a daily basis. Abuse comes in many forms including domestic, financial, physical and psychological and unfortunately my office receives many reports of this each year.

“This day has added poignancy this year with the battle older people are currently facing in relation to Covid-19. During this pandemic many older people have had to take extreme measures to reduce their risk of exposure to the virus; but this in itself carries an element of risk. Those living alone or experiencing loneliness are more likely to have fallen victim to a telephone or email scam, while those already living with domestic abuse may have seen their situation worsen during the lockdown.”

The Commissioner says the current pandemic has once again flagged up systemic issues with care homes that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“It is two years since the publication of my Home Truths report following my investigation into the care and treatment of older people living in Dunmurry Manor Care Home.

“Despite seeing some progress, many of the recommendations I made are still outstanding and need to be introduced as soon as possible. I met Minister Swann in the past few days and again impressed upon him the importance of introducing these reforms.

“I need to see the introduction of an Adult Safeguarding Bill without delay in order to better protect some of the most vulnerable in society as well as stronger financial penalties for providers who fail to meet minimum standards. It is unacceptable for any care homes to spend months providing sub-standard care to residents.”

While the number of deaths from Covid-19 has been falling for a number of weeks, the Commissioner expressed the need to avoid complacency in the protection of older people in any future waves.

“This pandemic is not over by a long way and older people remain at high risk. As well as supporting people in the community, and particularly those who remain shielding, we need to continue to place a ring of steel around care homes to keep Covid-19 out. A good supply of PPE and ongoing regular testing is needed to protect residents and the hard working staff who are providing care during these difficult times.”

The Commissioner continued: “It is often said that the true judge of a society is how it looks after its most vulnerable members. On World Elder Abuse Awareness day, it’s important we embrace that view and do everything we can to protect and safeguard older people from all forms of abuse."