Call for people to ‘Plan Ahead’ and reduce risk of adult abuse

November 10 2023, 11:08am

Safeguarding Day 2023

Today, Friday 10 November 2023, is Adult Safeguarding Day. This public awareness drive is an annual initiative of Safeguarding Ireland, supported by the HSE, and now in its third year. It is also being coordinated in partnership with organisations across the health, social, financial and justice sectors. DFI is delighted to support this important initiative. 

The aim of Safeguarding Day is to raise a greater understanding of adult abuse and safeguarding and the emphasis this year is on ‘go to’ actions all adults can take to Plan Ahead and reduce their risk of adult abuse.

Research findings show people are not planning ahead 

More than 90% of Irish adults have not set out their wishes and preferences for future healthcare and treatments – and the majority are not aware of the need to do so, or how to do it.

Just 4% of Irish adults have completed a legally recognised plan for their future care and treatment, called an Advance Healthcare Directive, while 72% are either unaware of the option to do so or would not know how to put one in place – according to new research announced today.

The RED C research was commissioned by Safeguarding Ireland and launched on Adult Safeguarding Day. 

The survey of a representative sample of 1,000 adults found that just 6% of adults had nominated a Designated Healthcare Representative, and 5% had documented their wishes on where they would like to be cared for.

Regarding finances and property, just 11% had made an Enduring Power Attorney, which while higher than previous Safeguarding Ireland research of 6%, still remains very low by international standards. In many European countries, a majority of adults have an EPA in place.

Safeguarding Ireland Chairperson Patricia Rickard-Clarke said planning ahead on important life decisions such as finances, property, healthcare and medical treatments – and appointing a trusted person to act on our behalf if needed – is recognised to be the key action people can take to safeguard against adult abuse.

She said, “Planning ahead means that these important decisions are recorded with a legal basis, and in the care of a person we have chosen and trust, for if ever in the future we need help.

“Doing so is relevant for all adults including if younger and in full health. Providing this clarity not only safeguards our future selves – it also reduces potential for confusion, conflict and tension in families and helps healthcare professionals to know what treatment we would want.”

Responding to the research findings, Safeguarding Ireland recommended three ‘go to’ steps that all adults can take to protect their future.

  1. Make an Enduring Power of Attorney – this means appointing legal and financial decision-making powers to a chosen person for if we lack decision-making capacity in the future. Banks and An Post can advise on good planning of money and property. Also, the Decision Support Service (DSS) is available explain how to make an EPA ( / 01 211 9750).
  • Nominate a Designated Healthcare Representative (DHR) – as part of an Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD), which is a legally based future health plan. It puts in place a trusted person to ensure that our requests for healthcare and medical treatments are followed if in the future we no longer had decision-making capacity. People can talk with their Doctor about making one and also the Irish Hospice Foundation has a resource called the Think Ahead Planning Pack, which includes a template Advance Healthcare Directive ( / 01 963 1161).
  • Learn about Decision Support Arrangements – which have become law this year under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act. These arrangements have legal standing and provide protocols for circumstances when a person has a challenge with decision-making. There are three levels of assistance including: a) A Decision-making Assistant b) a Co-decision-maker and c) A Decision-making Representative ( / 01 211 9750).

The HSE National Safeguarding Office General Manager Tim Hanly said many more adults need to plan ahead to prevent and reduce abuse concerns from arising. He said that anyone with a safeguarding concern should respond and report it.

“If a risk is serious and immediate the first port of call is always the Gardaí at 999 or 112. However, for ongoing concerns about abuse and neglect the HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams are available to listen, to give advice, to provide support, and to work with people to address the circumstances of any abuse or neglect. Contact details for the nine regional safeguarding teams are at”

Adult Safeguarding Day is an initiative of Safeguarding Ireland and supported by the HSE. More public information, and the RED C survey, are at