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  1. 'Open Your Eyes' - An Elder Abuse Public Awareness Campaign


HSE launches ‘Open Your Eyes’ - an Elder Abuse Public Awareness Campaign.

On Tuesday, June 15th, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the HSE will launch its second ‘Open Your Eyes’ media and public awareness campaign at a special seminar in the National Centre for the Protection of Older People, UCD. The campaign, which will be formally launched by the Minister for Older People and Health Promotion, Ms. Áine Brady T.D., aims to highlight the issue of elder abuse and increase the awareness of this issue among the general public.

Professor Pearl Treacy, Programme Director of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People, will chair the seminar. Speakers will also profile elder abuse referrals to the HSE as well as outline the work of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People. The seminar’s keynote speaker will be Mr. Daniel Reingold, President and CEO of the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, New York, who will describe the creation of the first elder abuse shelter, the Weinberg Centre, in the United States and the potential for replication in any country around the world.

The public awareness campaign will be supported by an awareness DVD, ‘Open Your Eyes to Elder Abuse in your Community’ and this will be shown during the seminar. The DVD has been developed to raise awareness of the issue of elder abuse within community settings. Different types of abuse are portrayed in the DVD in order to help viewers identify when abuse may be occurring. It highlights the stress that carers, especially lone carers, can experience while helping them, and others, to understand the importance of early intervention and assistance. The DVD outlines the practical steps to take if people are concerned about abuse and various supports that may be offered. It also highlights the importance for all of us who have contact with older people to be vigilant and alert for signs of abuse and to take action where abuse is suspected.

An information booklet on elder abuse along with a legacy card will also accompany the campaign.

All supporting material will be available on the day but will also be widely distributed throughout the HSE, voluntary organisations and older person groups.

A number of organisations will also be available on the day at information and advisory stands to assist with queries or provide further information. They include, the HSE, National Centre for the Protection of Older People, Age Action, Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, the Carers Association and Caring for Carers.

The campaign is in response to the fact that, although international research indicates that up to 5% of older people may be subject to abuse, the number of referrals reported to the HSE is much lower than this. Also, referrals to the HSE would indicate that elder abuse is primarily happening in one’s own home and is being perpetrated by those having the closest relationship to the older person. The underreporting may be due to a number of reasons but recent experience and national data would suggest that a poor understanding and acceptance of elder abuse in Ireland as well as a fear of reporting are major factors.

A dedicated and robust elder abuse structure has been put in place by the HSE. In excess of 17,000 healthcare staff have received training on recognising and responding to elder abuse to date.

In 2008, the HSE undertook its first national elder abuse media and public awareness campaign to address all aspects of elder abuse but highlighted financial abuse in particular. The campaign was supported by the launch of the HSE staff elder abuse policy and a training DVD for frontline and residential care staff.

Efforts to provide a comprehensive response to elder abuse are ongoing. The launch of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People in 2009 will allow for the linking of policy and practice and ensure that both are informed and guided by evidence-based approaches.

Comprehensive data on elder abuse referrals to the HSE is being captured and will provide a profile of elder abuse in Ireland as well as highlighting where interventions are needed.

Although much has been achieved, continued effort is needed to keep the issue of elder abuse in the public domain.  As elder abuse primarily happens in one’s own home, providing information on prevention, detection and response in the community is critical to combat this issue.

It is hoped that the ‘Open Your Eyes’ public awareness campaign will provide increased awareness of elder abuse, assist with the understanding of the types and signs of abuse, outline the avenues available for help and advice, and encourage the seeking of early intervention and support to prevent or stop elder abuse. It is imperative that our communities, healthcare workers and anyone interacting with older people are vigilant for signs of abuse and are supported and encouraged to report it.

For further information, contact the HSE Information Line on 1850 24 1850 or visit the website