Safeguarding Ireland have issued the following concerns. We are not trying to scare anyone, just trying to make sure everyone is being protected. If you cannot get out to collect your pension, please be sure you nominate someone you know you can trust. This is the same for all financial matters.

Upholding decision making rights.
It is important that vulnerable people are not forced into longer term accommodation due to expediency overriding their wills and preferences. While available facilities, skills and expertise might dictate services that can be offered in the short term, it is critical that these do not become inappropriate long-term arrangements.

Health and Social Care services should remain mindful that, if a person has functional capacity to make decisions about their place of care, healthcare arrangements – no other person has a legal right to make those decisions on their behalf.

Vigilance against Financial Abuse.
Helpful ‘Temporary Agent’ arrangements have been put in place by An Post to facilitate access to Social Protection payments at Post Offices for vulnerable adults. However, with flexible arrangements come opportunities for unscrupulous people to take advantage and control over vulnerable people’s finaces. There should be strong awareness among An Post, Postmasters and government departments on risks of financial abuse.

Short term payment of bills.
In the current challenges, vulnerable adults may have difficulty paying utility bills or rental fees.. Safeguarding Ireland suggests that the government direct utility agencies and Landlords to take a flexible approach, on a temporary basis, to payments and bills.

Care in the use of language.
Terms such as ‘bed blockers’ referring to older people should not be used. While it is appreciated that medical professionals could have to make very difficult choices in these very exceptional circumstances, it is important that all people are treated with and spoken about with dignity and respect.

Longer-term need for a National Safeguarding Authority.
The current crisis highlights the need for a National Safeguarding Authority to promote and protect the rights of the most vulnerable in society. It is a concern that there is no single Authority with this overarching mandate and it is something that government should consider as an issue of urgency.

If you need a form to nominate a person to collect your pension and you cannot download it and print it off for any reason at all, give Susan or Denise a ring and we will get one to you.