Institutional Abuse in Ireland

It’s a fact, Ireland’s population both North and South, is getting older. A natural consequence of this is that more and more people are entering nursing homes and residential care homes. It’s a concept relatively new to the Irish family, but the realities of today are making it more of the norm than the exception.

However, not all nursing homes and residential care homes are created equally and while some are completely responsive to the needs of the patient, others are not. It is not always apparent by looking at the nursing home from the outside (or inside) and you need to think about interviewing residents or their families about the kind of care their loved one received. An ageing population means that the number of people who will experience abuse when they grow older is set to increase unless measures to tackle elder abuse are introduced.

Figures released last year revealed that Gardai were given over 700 complaints about ill treatment of elderly and mentally disabled in nursing homes.

Defining elder abuse

The definition of abuse in Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults: regional adult protection policy and procedural guidelines (2006) in NI is: “the physical, psychological, emotional, financial or sexual maltreatment or neglect of a vulnerable adult by another person. The abuse may be a single act or repeated over a period of time. It may take one form or a multiple of forms. The lack of appropriate action can also be a form of abuse. Abuse can occur in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and can be perpetrated by a person/persons, in breach of that trust, who have influence over the life of a dependant, whether they be formal or informal carers, staff or family members or others. It can also occur outside such a relationship.”

In ROI a definition of elder abuse outlined by the Working Group on Elder Abuse in 2002 is similar to the NI definition. It is based on Action on Elder Abuse’s (1995) definition, which was also adopted by the World Health Organization (2002), where elder abuse is described as: “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights” (Protecting our Future, 2002).

Categories of Institutional Abuse in Ireland

The following is a list of the various types of elder abuse which can occur in care homes:

• physical abuse
• sexual abuse
• psychological abuse
• financial or material abuse
• neglect and acts of omission
• discriminatory abuse

If you, a friend or family member has experienced any of the above please contact our offices today on 01-5313800 to speak with one of our solicitors who can explain the options and remedies available.

A medical negligence compensation claim solicitor will handle your claim and for damages against healthcare professionals for personal injury and loss.

In the past we have helped clients who experienced Institutional Abuse in Ireland or neglect in the following forms:-

Toileting: Some nursing homes and residential care homes have regular schedules for toileting their residents and will toilet them on demand with little time between the request to void and the response from the nursing home aide. Others take too long to take the patient to the toilet, resulting in ‘accidents’. Too many accidents and the resident ends up in nappies that are left on the resident in a soiled condition, leading to rashes and urine damage to the skin.

The provision of liquids: While most nursing homes and residential care homes can bring themselves to leave water by the bedside, many aides forget that residents have a decreased drive for thirst when compared to young people and they also have a decreased ability to get to the water and drink it. For elderly people, this type of dehydration can lead to low blood pressure, falls and urinary tract infections.

Social Neglect: Residents can be socially neglected by leaving them in bed or in a wheelchair in their room where they don’t have access to the environmental milieu or people to talk to. The lack of simple social interaction can lead to episodes of depression that can lead to further isolation and even death.

Medication Errors: Medications are usually given in large numbers to many different residents, leaving a lot of room for error. A cupful of medications can be given to the wrong resident, leading to allergies and adverse side effects. Giving too much of a medication can lead to side effects that can be deadly and failing to give a medication or series of medications to a resident can result in under-treatment of a medical condition and series after-effects.

Our experience and history

At Coleman Legal Partners we understand the difficulties a person you may have in discussing abuse, and we appreciate the fear and anxiety they may have in making a claim. We offer our assurance that we deal with every victim with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality and pursue each case with urgency and professionalism.

Historical Institutional Abuse at Care Homes in Northern Ireland

The inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland (known as the HIA inquiry) was set up in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73 year period, up to 1995. A total of 13 Northern Ireland institutions are being investigated. Whether you were abused as a child or as an adult, and whether the abuse was sexual, physical or both, you can speak to us at CLP in confidence about your entitlement to claim compensation from the individual or the organisation or person that failed to protect you from the abuse.

What to do next

To discuss your case in confidence with experienced medical negligence birth injury solicitors, please FREEphone us on 1800 844 104  or email Kathrin Coleman or Marguerite Baily for further information.


 

Institutional Abuse in Ireland in the news:

https://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/bessborough-babies-were-used-for-formula-trial-453399.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/inquiry-hears-witness-left-suicidal-after-alleged-care-home-abuse-1.2079877

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/order-accepts-fr-brendan-smyth-abused-children-in-north-homes-1.2055275