Safeguarding Ireland: Just a third understand ‘Adult Safeguarding’

New drive to strengthen awareness of Adult Safeguarding

Two thirds of people are aware of ‘adult safeguarding’, but just a third correctly understand what it means – according to new RED C research announced today.

The research has been launched for Ireland’s first-ever Adult Safeguarding Day – a new nationwide initiative, coordinated by Safeguarding Ireland, to raise better understanding of safeguarding and the prevention of adult abuse.

A survey of a representative sample of 1,000 adults found that 67% of people recognised ‘safeguarding from adult abuse’ as something they had an awareness of, however when provided with an explanation just 34% said they had correctly understood what it means.

The survey found that people were inclined to see safeguarding as ‘procedural tasks’ related to security at care facilities, inspection and audit of services, or maintaining records and files.

However, Safeguarding Ireland Chairperson Patricia Rickard-Clarke said the key messages for Adult Safeguarding Day are that safeguarding is about rights, respect, empowerment and planning ahead.

“Safeguarding means putting measures in place to uphold our rights, to support our health and wellbeing and to reduce the risk of harm. It involves ourselves, our families, services and professionals all working together to prevent adult abuse, neglect, or coercive control.

“Safeguarding also means empowerment – that if we face challenges with our capacity, our voices are heard and included. It also means that we plan ahead so that if, at a future date, we need help from others that there is clarity on our wishes – and that these will be respected.”

Information is available at and events are today taking place in health and social care services across the country.

The need for greater prevention was highlighted in research commissioned by Safeguarding Ireland in 2020 which found that 12% of all adults had experienced adult abuse in the previous six months, and that one third reported ever experiencing abuse.

The event has been welcomed and backed by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee who said: “Adult Safeguarding Day is an important reminder of the need for us all to work to protect the basic human rights of all our citizens, and to ensure that service providers, professional support staff and Government act together to reduce the risk of harm to those vulnerable to abuse and neglect.”

Ms Rickard Clarke said that the RED C research also showed the need for a greater understanding of the actions people can take to better protect themselves against abuse such as planning ahead healthcare and finances, and in particular putting in place an Enduring Power of Attorney.

“It was very encouraging that in the research the feature which people most associated with safeguarding (81%) was upholding people’s Human Rights.

“However, respondents were considerably less likely (63%) to associate safeguarding with putting in place an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). Putting an EPA in place ensures that if we were to lack decision-making capacity at a time in the future due to age related frailty, an illness, or an accident that a trusted person who is aware of our wishes will act on our behalf.”

Ms Rickard-Clarke said there has been a lot of public focus on safeguarding issues in recent months with regard to care homes and the Wards of Court system, however she said that a political focus is also needed to deliver stronger legislation and policy.

“We urgently need to see progress on the development and enactment of Adult Safeguarding Legislation and the establishment of a dedicated National Adult Safeguarding Authority.”

Safeguarding Ireland also today launched a consultation on a draft Safeguarding Charter. The Charter will be shared with organisations across the health, social, justice and financial sectors for discussion and agreement – and will then be put forward as a voluntary national code for organisations, services and professions to sign up to.

The RED C survey also found a higher understanding of safeguarding among older people, showing the need to promote greater awareness among younger adults.

The campaign information is at

Further Information
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.

Adult Safeguarding Day 2021 campaign messages:

  • Safeguarding is – Upholding Our Rights
  • Safeguarding is – Respect for my Rights
  • Safeguarding is – Everybody Preventing Adult Abuse
  • Safeguarding is – Services and People Together
  • Safeguarding is – I am Free from Harm
  • Safeguarding is – Independence and Choice.

afeguarding Day

Safeguarding Ireland
Safeguarding Ireland promotes safeguarding of adults to protect them from all forms of abuse by persons, organisations and institutions and to deliver a national plan for promoting their welfare.

General Info

Date Entered/Updated
19th Nov, 2021
Expiry Date
3rd Dec, 2021