Elder Abuse Claims
Ireland has an aging population and as our loved ones are growing older, they may require additional care and assistance. When we put our trust in a person or organisation to look after our loved ones, we expect that they will be treated with respect and dignity and that their needs will be met. Therefore, it can be extremely distressing to learn that a loved one has suffered from elder abuse while in the care of professionals.
It can often be difficult to prove that abuse has occurred, especially in cases where the elderly person is suffering from dementia or any other condition that may reduce awareness of their surroundings. Our elder abuse solicitors can offer confidential and compassionate support for anyone concerned about an instance of elder abuse in Ireland.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse usually occurs when a person who is in a position of trust causes harm or distress to an elderly person, either deliberately or by failing to provide them with the care and attention that they need.
Elder abuse comes in many different forms, including psychological abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse and negligence. Elder abuse can happen in nursing homes, but many people also experience elder abuse at home. All types of elder abuse can have very serious consequences.
Almost 16,000 cases of elder abuse have been reported to the HSE in the last 5 years.
What are the types of elder abuse?
This is one of the most common types of abuse for people aged 65 and older. 35% of elder abuse cases that have been reported over the last number of years have involved psychological abuse.
This can occur when an individual emotionally abuses an elderly person by verbal, or sometimes non-verbal means. This can occur if that individual has threatened, insulted or humiliated an elderly person through their words or conduct. When an elderly person has been psychologically abused, they may appear withdrawn from their loved ones or even exhibit signs of dementia.
Physical abuse refers to the application of force on an elderly person, causing bodily harm. Physical abuse accounted for 23% of the elder abuse cases reported in recent years.
Physical elder abuse can occur when an elderly person is subjected to rough treatment, to the extent that it leaves marks or bruises or when someone deliberately inflicts pain on an older person. If a senior is being physically abused, there may be a change in their behaviour, or they may have injuries that cannot be explained.
Financial abuse is, unfortunately, another common form of elderly abuse. In around 40% of financial abuse cases involving elderly people, the perpetrator is related to the victim.
Elder financial abuse can occur when someone else has access to your money, you feel pressured into allowing someone to have access to your accounts, someone else makes decisions about your money without speaking to you or you feel pressured to give money to someone else.
Elder sexual abuse can occur when an individual forces the elderly people to be intimate with them without their consent.
Neglect of an older person can also constitute elder abuse in some cases. This is one of the most common forms of elder abuse in nursing homes.
Neglect can occur when an elderly person is not being provided with the care that they need, such as the necessary medication, adequate nutrition, clothing and heating or if an elderly person is left alone for long periods of time in situations where they cannot care for themselves properly.
What is the punishment for elder abuse?
Exactly what action may be taken where elder abuse is uncovered will depend on the situation, including the type of abuse and the level of harm. Those responsible could face disciplinary action or dismissal and, where a crime has occurred, they could face criminal proceedings.
Civil action in the form of elder abuse claims may also be necessary in order to secure funds to make sure an elderly person gets the right support to recover for the abuse they have experienced.
When to report elder abuse?
It is important to report elder abuse as soon as there is reason for suspicion that an elderly person is being harmed. The sooner the matter is reported and addressed, the less risk there is of serious harm.
How to report elder abuse
In the first instance, the matter should normally be raised with the person in charge or the organisation providing care. You can also report a concern to the HSE and the Health, Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), who can carry out an investigation or direct you to appropriate support.
However, if there are concerns that a crime has been committed and/or there is an immediate threat of harm to an elderly person, it may be more appropriate to contact emergency services.
What happens after you report elder abuse?
If you report the matter to the organisation providing care, then you should expect an internal investigation and a report on the outcome.
If you report the matter to the HSE or HIQA, then they will either carry out an independent investigation or direct you towards the appropriate place to get further support.
If you report the matter to the Gardaí, then they will carry out an investigation to establish whether criminality has occurred. If evidence of a crime is uncovered, the responsible parties will face prosecution.
Who can make a claim for elder abuse?
In many cases, the person experiencing elder abuse will not be able to make a claim themselves, for example, if they do not have the mental capacity to do so or are otherwise vulnerable. Depending on the situation, the loved ones of an elderly person may be able to make a claim on their behalf, so this is something to discuss with a legal expert.
How do you start an elder abuse claim?
Anyone wishing to pursue civil proceedings for elder abuse is advised to seek expert legal advice from experienced elder abuse lawyers at the earliest opportunity.
How can Lavelle Partners assist you in bringing a claim?
- Lavelle Partners have over 35 years of experience successfully managing many types of abuse civil cases.
- From the first moment you speak to one of our lawyers for elderly abuse, we will listen to your case carefully and with empathy and will only recommend advancing your claim if we believe you have a valid case.
- We have both the legal expertise and understanding of the real-life challenges faced by individuals and their families following such events.
What our clients say about our experienced Civil Litigation Team
‘Expert advice and the priority they gave, in particular their attention to detail.’
The Legal 500, 2022
‘The firm listen to the issues, make sure they understand the precise problems and then accurately summarise the situation with suggested remedies. They make you feel comfortable and you don’t feel you are “on the clock”.’
The Legal 500, 2022
‘I have immediate access to their advice via email/telephone and it’s always friendly and professional. I can rely on their recommendations at all times.’
The Legal 500, 2022
For further information on making elder abuse claims, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on +353 1 6445800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org