Legal Implications Regarding Self-Neglecting Community-Dwelling Adults: A Practical Approach for the Community Nurse in Ireland
Public health nursing (Boston, Mass.) 2010 Mar ; 27(2): 181-7
This paper explores the current literature related to legal issues encountered by the public health nurse in Ireland in visiting clients exhibiting self-neglecting behavior. Nurses working in community settings where home visiting of clients is required will at some point encounter situations of client self-neglect. Possession of a clear legal framework for the local area that addresses both the nurse's professional responsibility and the client's rights is needed. Because a high incidence of depression and dementia seen in self-neglecting adults has prompted calls for wider screening of the agreeable client, an understanding of the definition of competence and capacity in the national legal system for that client becomes critical. In Ireland, as in many other countries, refusal of care or screening is the right of any competent adult. However, issues of mandatory reporting, confidentiality, and trespass may differ from other areas. Nursing care delivered at the community level to a client exhibiting self-neglecting behavior involves a delicate balance of trust and support. Through this overview of the legal implications for self-neglecting clients in Ireland, nurses have the opportunity to begin an exploration of similarities and differences in approach on a global level.
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