Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said robust legislation is needed to protect older members of the community from abuse.
Speaking during an Assembly debate, the chair of the Assembly’s health committee said: “Abuse of our elderly and vulnerable people should be a concern for everyone in society. How we treat and protect our elderly residents is a reflection of our communities and society.
“The protection of our elderly should be a priority for all of us as a society and for us as legislators.
“It is absolutely shocking that allegations of abuse against older people has increased from 1,715 in 2011 to 3,023 in 2013/14.
“I am calling on the health minister to introduce legislation to clearly define abuse and to put in place the necessary legislative protections for our elderly population.
“I believe it is for this very reason that legislation needs to define abuse. Abuse does not only take place in care homes and can take many forms. It can be physical, sexual, emotional or even financial
“Older people deserve to have the confidence that if they experience abuse or are at risk of abuse that the law can adequately protect them and can punish those who inflict this abuse.
“As it stands there is no single piece of legislation in the North of Ireland that protects older people from abuse.
“I am calling on the health minister to introduce legislation to clearly define abuse and to put in place the necessary legislative protections for our elderly population.”