Falling Through the Cracks: The Case for Change, Key Developments and Next Steps for Adult Safeguarding in Ireland


The Adult Safeguarding Bill 2017 was introduced by Senator Colette Kelleher in the Seanad in April 2017. The Bill aims to put in place additional protections and supports for adults, in particular, for those who may be unable to protect themselves. It does two main things: Part 3 provides for mandatory reporting by specified/named persons/professionals and others where an adult has experienced abuse or harm, is experiencing abuse or harm, or is at risk of experiencing abuse or harm. Part 2 establishes a National Adult Safeguarding Authority ‘that will be required to respond effectively if significant concerns of abuse or harm are reported’ (Section 7:7). Provisions include that the authority will have the power to investigate, including the power to enter any premises that is not a dwelling (i.e. premises occupied as a private dwelling). The Authority may also direct the Executive2 or local authority to make available health or social care, legal, accommodation or other services including emergency supports (Section 11:3).

This study described below sets out to explore how the absence of adult safeguarding legislation in the Irish context may result in adults ‘falling through the cracks’ within the current safeguarding system.. This was achieved through the following methods: i) 17 semi-structured audio-recorded narrative interviews with Social Workers, Alzheimer Society of Ireland Dementia Advisors and a SAGE Regional Advocacy Coordinator; ii) two in-depth focus groups with social workers (N=8); iii) online survey of social work practitioners (N= 116). The study seeks to shed light on how practitioners are navigating cases in the absence of primary legislation and to explore what benefits or challenges there might be should adult safeguarding legislation be fully enacted in the Irish context.

Read the full report here.