Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) is investigating the 1,760 cases of elder abuse, with 477 of these reported in 2011. As there is no dedicated elder abuse officer in the southern region of Ireland the authority believe this figure is likely to be higher.

In the Executive’s annual elder abuse report, to be published next week, they will reveal that there were 2,046 referrals in 2010, which was up from 1,870 in 2009. It will show that neglect and financial abuse claims have risen by 14 percent and nine percent respectively.

This week in Ireland a high profile case, with relation to the takeover of the Rostreavor nursing home, in South Dublin, has grabbed media attention. The home’s owners have failed to overturn the court’s decision that the HSE should take control.

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Justice Matthew Deery, Circuit Court President said that as of now it is being run by the HSE. The Executive has powers to make decisions concerning the welfare of its residents.

Minister of State for Older people, Kathleen Lynch said the situation highlighted the need for whistleblower legislation. She said the legislation is currently “in the drafting office." It will cover care units as well as homes.

The HSE’s expert group, the National Elder Abuse Steering Committee, said the issue of elder abuse is an area of “growing concern” in Ireland. They also believe the number of cases which are being reported is relatively small in comparison to the number that may actually be occurring, as elder abuse remains a social taboo.

Last year, a comprehensive report, carried out by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP) found that 10,000 elderly people in Ireland were being neglected in their own homes. Professor Pearl Treacy, program director of the NCPOP, told the Irish Examiner that researchers are  completing a similar report in the nursing home sector.