Safeguarding the Human Rights of older people through an intergenerational solidarity and active citizenship approach

Sage Advocacy received funding through the KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices stream of Erasmus+, administered by Léargas. The project will focus on safeguarding older persons’ legal and human rights through active citizenship, an inter-generational approach, and involves a partnership between Sage Advocacy (Ireland), Pro Senectute(Austria), Tulip Foundation (Bulgaria) and BAGSO (Germany).

On 15th November 2022, Sage Advocacy hosted the first 3-day teaching, training, and learning event from this project. The theme of this event was Human Rights & Older Age – Where Rhetoric meets Reality. The activities sought to ground rhetoric around human rights issues with the experiences and perspectives of older people, professionals, and state bodies.

Partners reflect on impact and successes as Erasmus+ project draws to a close

Sage Advocacy and its partners, Bagso (Germany), Tulip Foundation (Bulgaria) and Pro Senectute (Austria), are currently finalising their project submission to Erasmus+, following a productive engagement that began in 2021 and encompassed international events for teaching, training and learning; position papers; multilingual resources and communications tools; and a Handbook for Good Practice developed by Dr Michael Browne

Director of Bulgaria’s Tulip Foundation, Maria Petkova, reflected on the experience of participating in the project, supported by Erasmus+ and Léargas and entitled Safeguarding the Human Rights of Older People Through an Intergenerational Solidarity and Active Citizenship Approach, saying that the training events and bilateral talks with partners and other organisations had given her organisation much to think about and to take forward.

She said: “We have come across a few practices that we would like to possibly introduce in our country. Some preliminary conversations have taken place. The Tulip Foundation team is currently in discussions with a number of other Bulgarian organisations about how we might initiate some further trainings and exchanges.”

Ms Petkova added: “Together we learned about innovative policies and practices across European countries relating to implementing older persons’ human and legal rights. A huge variety of different local and national policies and practices in the partners’ countries were presented during the teaching, training and learning events. These have provoked questions and discussions.

“At the same time, new problematic issues and areas of life for older people were raised and discussed, such as the digital inclusion of older people and the limited opportunities to access digital / online trainings; their vulnerability to fake news; and difficult access / lack of services in rural areas.”

Bibiana Savin, Sage Advocacy’s Assistant CEO Case Management and Support, commended each of the partners for their contribution to the success of the project and said that the experience had been enriching and rewarding, with great scope for further work in partnership towards the betterment of older people’s human rights across Europe.

She said: “The connections we have made; the best practice we have witnessed; and the knowledge and learning that has been generated through the events, exchanges and outputs of this project have been invaluable and will have a lasting impact on our work. We are looking forward to the publication of our interactive PDF, which will be a valuable repository of the work completed, and which includes the Handbook of Good Practice, which in itself is an excellent achievement by Dr Michael Browne, and a practical resource that we hope might be put into use across Europe.”

In a foreword commending the Handbook, David Byrne SC, the Former Attorney General of Ireland and Former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, wrote: “The Handbook provides a comprehensive and detailed set of guidance across multiple areas which, based on a human rights perspective, outlines ways in which society should and can treat its older members. It sets out a range of measures that can be taken by older people themselves, by communities, by public services and by Governments to give effect to a human rights approach.”

He added: “The concept of intergenerational solidarity in protecting the human and legal rights of older persons is a recurring and important theme in the Handbook. Safeguarding the human rights of older people is an intergenerational matter in terms of supporting people who require services, ensuring they retain connectedness with their communities and, very importantly, that adequate resources are available to provide high quality care for the relatively small proportion of older people in any country who need long-term care at any given time.”

Keep an eye on this section of the website for publication of the Erasmus+ project report before the end of this year.

Presentations from the Event

Patsy Fitzsimons is Head of Complaints and Investigations with the Decision Support Service. Patsy’s presentation gave an overview of Key Reforms and role of the Decision Support Service in relation to the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

Amanda Phelan (RGN, RM, PHN, RNT, BNS, MSc, PhD.) is a Professor of Ageing and Community Nursing in the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin since March 2020.  Please email us for a copy of Amanda’s presentation.

Katja Savolainen presented ‘A Study into Human rights of Older People in Long-Term Care in Ireland. Please email us for a copy of Katja’s presentation.

The Judiciary – Justice John O’Connor provided an outline of how he approaches cases that have relevance to human rights and safeguarding for Older people giving case examples and approaches. He also referenced the resource implications of fully implementing the Assisted Decision Making Act 2015. 

An active discussion followed with Judge O’Connor providing a handout of written judgements for cases of interest to the group.  

Catherine’s presentation looked at the Role of The Director of Nursing.

Martina gave a presentation titled ‘A Solicitor’s Perspective – Protection to Promotion. Martina has also provided a paper to supplement her presentation. Please email us for a copy of Martina’s presentation.

Michael presented a case study involving historic coercive control and abuse.

Tara Byrne from Age & Opportunity gave a presentation on the Bealtaine Festival: Subverting expectations of older age.  Please email us for a copy of Tara’s presentation.

Bibiana’s presentation looked at Complex Issues & Simple Messages – ‘Postcards from the edge’.

All of the images form the Postcards from the edge campaign can be viewed here.

Valerie’s presentation is titled Think Ahead: Having Courageous Conversations.  Please email us for a copy of this presentation.

In this video Michael speaks about the next steps for the project.

The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Acts (2015 & 2022) came into force on April 26th 2023 and the Decision Support Service is now operational.  Here are a list of resources and links that will be helpful.

Go to Assisted Decision-Making

European Day of Solidarity Between Generations

The 29th of April 2023 is European Day of Solidarity between Generations. Sage Advocacy is a partner on the Erasmus Project; Safeguarding Older Persons’ Legal and Human Rights through an Active Citizenship, Intergenerational Approach. This project has developed a Position Paper and a brief Statement of Position titled Intergenerational Solidarity: Selected Considerations.

These documents aim to raise awareness of the impact of issues related to intergenerational solidarity for the rights of older people. Please share this information as widely as possible to promote safeguarding older persons human rights.

See below for more information about our Programme Partners and their work.