Response to criminal behaviour in nursing home requires more than policies and procedures

Time for a ‘root & branch’ approach to safeguarding vulnerable adults and older people

The rape of a resident of a HSE nursing home in 2020 and allegations by other residents of sexual assault by the same man, which had been rumoured for some time, have finally been made public following a report by the National Incident Review Panel of the HSE.

Responding to the report Sage Advocacy CEO Mervyn Taylor said that it was: “beyond belief that allegations of sexual assault by a number of residents were not believed by staff and therefore not investigated”.

“Something, other than just the restrictions and challenges of the Covid pandemic, lies at the heart of this issue. Serious questions have to be asked about leadership, management, clinical governance, skills development and safeguarding approaches both across and within congregated care settings.

“The delays in putting in place a legislative framework for adult safeguarding have to end.”

Mr Taylor set out a number of steps which Sage Advocacy called to be taken:

“A National Adult Safeguarding Authority must be established as soon as the long-delayed report of the Law Reform Commission on adult safeguarding is published.
“Safeguarding services must be strengthened, become multi-disciplinary and independent of the HSE.
“In the context of the planned establishment of Regional Health Authorities, as part of the process of implementing Sláintecare, all nursing homes, public, private and voluntary must be brought under a single system of oversight and clinical governance with greater emphasis on supports from consultants in medicine for older people, specialist nurses and social workers.
“The ‘regulate and inspect’ approach of HIQA should be reconsidered with a greater emphasis being placed on quality improvement and resident engagement rather than simply inspection.”
Sage Advocacy noted that some nursing homes lack necessary skills in dealing with challenging sexual behaviour by some residents towards others, sometimes but not always related to dementia, and the approach towards residents who are revealed to have a previous history of being sexually predatory is often to simply move them on to another nursing home.

“Where a resident lacks the capacity to verbalise or communicate a sexual assault, whether by a member of staff, another resident or by a visitor the challenges are enormous. But, where not just one resident but a number of residents make an allegation of sexual assault and these allegations are not adequately reported, let alone properly investigated, there is clearly something more at play that cannot be explained by lack of training or inadequate policies and procedures,” Mr Taylor concluded.

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731 /

Notes to Editor

Sage Advocacy clg is a registered charity which operates nationally and is based on Ormond Quay in central Dublin. | CRO #610824 | RCN #20162221 | CHY #22308.

First established in June 2014 as a support and advocacy service for older people by the HSE, The Atlantic Philanthropies and Third Age, Sage Advocacy clg was established in September 2017 and on March 1st 2018 it assumed full responsibility for the governance and future development of the service.

Sage Advocacy is currently fully publicly funded through the HSE although it has also received funding from the Dept of Justice, the EU Erasmus+ Programme and the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission. Its Annual Report & Financial Statements for 2022 indicate that it dealt with 3,027 Information & Support Cases and 1,506 Advocacy cases with 67% of advocacy cases categorised as either amber or red in terms of complexity. Expenditure in 2022 was €1,871,229.

Cavanagh Communications I OfficePod 18, 6-7 Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland. A96 R2N4.
Media Relations I Public Affairs I Communications Management I PRII Awards: Winner 2014 & Finalist 2022 & 2015.


More Posts