Monday 23 September 2019

'Losing your Marbles is one thing ….having them stolen is another' - new campaign to support older people to make decisions

Stock Image
Stock Image

Eilish O’Regan

A NEW campaign called “losing your marbles” wants older people to have the right to be “unwise” when making decisions about where they live or are cared for.

The campaign “Losing your Marbles is one thing ….having them stolen is another” was launched by Sage Advocacy which acts on behalf of older people.

Speaking at the launch of Sage Advocacy’s annual report, its Director of the Decision Support Service, Áine Flynn, said the campaign highlights the importance of the presumption of capacity and of supporting people as far as possible to make their own decisions.

She referred to the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

“The 2015 Act emphasises privacy, autonomy, ‘the right to be unwise’ and respect for individual will and preferences rather than ‘best interests.’”

The report said the  lack of adequate HSE funding to support people’s wishes or needs is endemic.

“This is evidenced in the lack of suitable accommodation options, step down and rehabilitation facilities. People are regularly ‘forced’ into nursing homes because of this.

“This can be regarded as a basic deprivation of liberty. It also frequently results in delayed hospital discharges and unnecessary acute hospital care costs.

“The dearth of long-term care supports results in unnecessary hospital admissions, added stress on family carers (resulting in burn-out) and younger people with disabilities being placed in nursing homes, which is clearly totally inappropriate.”

It said that enabling older people with reduced decision-making capacity to exercise their will and preferences by enabling supported decision-making remains largely aspirational despite the growing emphasis on a rights-based approach.

“The Sage Advocacy experience is that many health and social care staff are not sufficiently attuned to this new approach.

“There are issues with enabling people to engage in positive risk-taking and an absence of structures to ensure that the individual’s voice is heard when care decisions are being made.”

The report warned:”The management and control of people’s personal finances is a recurring theme in Sage Advocacy engagement with clients.

“This arises because the person may not fully understand their financial situation and are not helped to do so or because a person’s money is controlled and managed by someone else, e.g. a relative. The latter is sometimes indicative of financial abuse.

“For example, access to financial statements for the purpose of applying for the Nursing Home Support Scheme (NHSS) may sometimes be purposefully blocked by a family member.

There is also clear evidence of lack of clarity in the way charges for services are levied and in the manner in which contracts of care are drawn up.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News