Mailing List

To receive the latest NCPOP updates direct to your inbox, simply enter your email address below...

  • Default Text Size
  • Large Text Size
  • Larger Text Size


Ms Emer Boyle

Policy & Practice in Elder Abuse: A Northern Ireland perspective

Head of legal and Policy Advice, Office of the Commissioner of Older People for Northern Ireland

Emer joined COPNI in the last year following more than 12 years in local government in Belfast City Council.  In the Council, Emer was Policy and Business Development Manager for over 6 years and prior to that role, she worked in a number of positions including Legal Policy Officer and Business Improvement Consultant. 

Emer has a primary degree in Law, a Masters in Business and various Management and Leadership qualifications.  She is married with a 4 year old daughter and when not working enjoys yoga and walking.


Dr Anne O'Loughlin

Witnessing Elder Mistreatment in Nursing Homes: Exploring the Decision-Making Process of Staff who Remain Silent

Principal Social Worker for the Protection of Older People, HSE

Anne O’Loughlin is Principal Social Worker at St. Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park. She has worked as a Social Worker with older persons since 1980, based in Departments of Medicine for Older Persons in the Richmond, Beaumont and St. Mary’s Hospitals in Dublin. Since 2012 she has worked as Social Worker for the Protection of Older Persons in the Dublin North City area. She qualified as a Social Worker in University College Dublin in 1976. From her early training in UCD she has a strong commitment to the central role of social work advocacy. She has focused her efforts in particular to drawing attention to the issue of the mistreatment of older persons. She has combined social work practice with continuing academic studies. She holds a Higher Diploma in Health Care (Risk Management), a Masters Degree (Social Work), and a PhD (Social Work) from University College Dublin.


Until very recently elder mistreatment is described as ‘a social problem hidden from public view’ (WHO, 2008: vii) and a sensitive issue for research (Mc Donald, 2012). Research on silence within organisations has only recently emerged as a major phenomenon of interest (Brinsfield et al, 2009). There are very few studies on the silence of staff in nursing homes, who witness elder mistreatment perpetrated by their colleagues. While staff silence about elder mistreatment is poorly understood, an emerging theme in research on organisational silence is that it collective-level phenomenon that can become pervasive in organisations (Milliken et al, 2003). This presentation explores the social influences on non-reporting by staff who witness elder mistreatment perpetrated by colleagues and sheds light on the factors that shape the decision to engage in silence. Recognising the sensitivity of the topics of elder mistreatment and organisational silence, the research uses the vignette technique. The vignette story reflects real-life dilemmas which face staff in nursing homes. Findings from focus group interviews with a multidisciplinary group of staff from three nursing homes using vignette scenarios are discussed. The discussion focuses on the findings which coalesce around the following themes: the tension between the elder abuse policy and reality; the social influences that impact on labelling the event elder abuse; the social dynamics that shape the decision to be silent; the search for a safe context for speaking out; and the costs both organisationally and personally associated with being silent. The findings highlight the challenge of developing moral communities that provide a safe environment to support ethical action.


Mr Frank  Murphy

Chair of the National Elder Abuse Steering Committe, HSE

Mr. Frank Murphy is a qualified nurse in Mental Health and Disability. He has worked in the Irish Health Service since 1998.  Prior to that Mr. Murphy worked in the Forensic services in the NHS.  Mr. Murphy was appointed as Lead for Older People Services, HSE West in 2005. He also has the lead responsibility for the national Elder Abuse programme and is chair of the National Elder Abuse Steering Committee.  He is currently employed as the Integrated Services Area Manager for Mayo. Mr Murphy has an MBA and a Masters in Human Resource management.   


Dr Attracta Lafferty

Family Carers of Older People: Results of a National Survey of Stress, Conflcit and Coping

Associate Centre Director, National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP) at UCD

Attracta has been Associate Centre Director at the National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP) in UCD for the past five years. Attracta started her studies at University of Ulster with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology, which was followed by a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology, and in 2009, she was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy, also from the University of Ulster. She has worked on several research projects involving vulnerable adults, including older people and people with intellectual disabilities. Before joining the Centre, Attracta worked as a Research Fellow on a national ageing research project in the field of intellectual disabilities and has since worked on several research projects in elder abuse. These have included a study with survivors of elder abuse and two-large-scale surveys; Ireland’s first national prevalence study of elder abuse and a national study of staff-resident interactions in residential care settings for older people. 


Professor Simon Biggs

The Relationship between Elder Abuse, Ageism and Human Rights

Professor of Gerontology and Social Policy, University of Melbourne, Australia

Simon has worked as a Community Psychologist and for the UK Social Work Council before joining Keele University as Professor of Social Gerontology. He was a visiting research fellow at the Department of Social Medicine, Harvard University in 2002, and the UK representative on the European Union’s Masters in Gerontology Programme 2002-2004.   From 2004- 2010 he was Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Institute of Gerontology, King’s College London UK. Since Sept 2010, he has worked in Australia in his current position. He has a number of continuing international links including the Universities of Heidelberg, Helsinki, University College Dublin and at King’s College London. He has participated in EU, Australian and Canadian Government briefings on population ageing, dignity in later life and on elder protection and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Ageing Societies.

Recent research has included World Health Organisation’s ‘Age friendly cities’ project; Economic and Social Research Council study of baby boomers; uses of adaptive technology in later life, the first national prevalence study of elder abuse and neglect in the UK; Australian research on mature-age workers (Australian Research Council), on intergenerational relationships (Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation), peri-urban growth (Vic Health) and  social aspects of dementia (National Health &Medical Research Council) .

His interests include the relationship between social identity and adult ageing, including the analysis of international and national social policy andthe changing adult life-course. Written work has extended to: community care policies; technologies of self, such as counselling and psychotherapy in later life; midlife and maturity; intergenerational relationships; spirituality and ageing; lifestyles and retirement communities; public policy toward old age; social theory and ageing.


While elder abuse, social ageism and human rights are often spoken about in the same breath, the conceptual relationship between them has rarely been explored in any depth. This presentation will firstly be used to examine recent findings from the international literature on the prevalence of elder mistreatment. Then discourses based on abuse, ageism and rights will be critically compared.  While it is possible to see this relationship as a series of different levels by which mistreatment can be understood, a change in perspective that might act as a bridge between these related approaches will be explored. It is argued that an approach that emphasises interconnection and on the ‘permessors’ of abuse will aid understanding of a situation that is at once ambiguous, ambivalent and requires action at multiple levels of intervention. 


Dr. Amanda Phelan

Co-director, National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP) at UCD

Dr. Amanda Phelan is a lecturer and Subject Head of Older People Nursing in the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems and a Co-Director in the National Centre for the Protection of Older People at UCD. Amanda has worked as a nurse and public health nurse with older people in both long term care and care in the community. Her PhD focused on community nurses' practice in relation to elder abuse. Amanda also facilitates the first European multi-disciplinary, graduate level programme on the topic of elder abuse, which is delivered through blended learning.

Amanda is on the editorial board for the International Journal of Older People Nursing and is a journal reviewer for over ten international peer reviewed publications on older person care, social policy and adult protection. She has published and presented extensively in the area of elder abuse nationally and internationally and been used in the national media as an expert commentator on this topic. Amanda also serves as a member of an international research advisory panel for the National Institute for the Care of the Elderly in the University of Toronto, Canada and was awarded a Royal Irish Academy grant in 2010 to visit Canadian and American centres in relation to elder abuse screening tools.

Amanda is Secretary of the All Ireland Gerontological Nurses' Association and is the national representative for the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Her edited book, International Perspectives on Elder Abuse, was published by Routledge in March 2013.