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Report a concern about a vulnerable adult's care - Complaints and feedback

If you or someone you know is a vulnerable older person or an adult with a disability, you may want to report a concern or make a complaint about the care you get or services you use.

A vulnerable adult is someone who may not be able to guard themselves against harm. This may be a result of physical, mental, sensory or intellectual impairment.

If you or someone you know is not happy with the care you get or services you use from the HSE or a HSE-funded organisation or service you can report a concern to the:

Examples of care you get or services you use could be a:

  • residential care service, day service or home support service that is run or funded by the HSE
  • carer who is working for a private company funded by the HSE

Reporting a concern to the Office of the Confidential Recipient

The confidential recipient is a person appointed by the HSE. They are independent of the HSE.

This means they can act as a voice for vulnerable older people and people with a disability when a complaint is made.

You can report a concern to the Office of the Confidential Recipient if you are:

  • a person who uses these services and you need confidential help and advice
  • a neighbour, family member, friend
  • any member of the public
  • working at a HSE-funded service

Types of concern

The Office of the Confidential Recipient deals with concerns about:

  • abuse
  • negligence
  • mistreatment
  • low quality of care

For example, if a person is physically abused, threatened, not fed enough of the right foods, is kept to their room or not allowed to move around (being confined).

Concerns may also be about denial of dignity, or someone not having control over their daily life or choices. You can also report concerns about abuse of power or a culture of oppression.

What the Office of the Confidential Recipient does

They will:

  • listen to you and hear your concerns
  • keep your identity anonymous if you prefer
  • support you and send your concern to the right place
  • make sure a senior person looks into your concern within 15 working days


There are 4 ways to contact the Office of the Confidential Recipient.


Complete the enquiry form


Freephone: 1800 949 494
Office phone: 087 188 0523
Confidential recipient phone: 087 665 7269
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm


General queries:
Confidential recipient:


Gráinne Cunningham O’Brien, Confidential Recipient,
Office of the Confidential Recipient,
Merlin Park University Hospital,
Block B,
Old Dublin Road,
H91 N973

In an emergency

Emergency action required: Contact 112 if:

you think your or someone else's immediate safety is in danger

After you raise a concern

The confidential recipient will review your concern and decide what needs to be done next.

The steps in an investigation are:

  1. An anonymous version of your concern will be sent to the relevant HSE chief officer (most senior person in that part of the HSE). The chief officer has 15 working days to do a review and respond with their report. But resolving the issue may take longer.
  2. When a chief officer cannot resolve your concern, or it is about a hospital, they will pass it to a national director.
  3. If a national director cannot resolve your concern, they will refer it to higher management until it is resolved.
  4. The report will be shared with you and if you are happy with the report, the investigation is closed. The confidential recipient will explain the findings to you.
  5. If you are not happy with the report, or the confidential recipient is not happy with its findings, the confidential recipient will send it back to and ask for it to be reviewed again.
  6. When you are happy that your concern has been dealt with, the confidential recipient will close the investigation.

Complaints the Office of the Confidential Recipient cannot help with

Sometimes people report concerns that the confidential recipient cannot deal with.

This may be because:

  • it is not about a vulnerable older person or person with a disability
  • the agency or service is not funded by the HSE

But they will advise you and support you on how and where to raise your concern or complaint.

Who to contact with other concerns

If you have a concern about someone's care in a private nursing home, day service, or other health and social care service, contact the service directly. You can ask them about their complaints policy and process. They will have to investigate your complaint.

Talk to your local HSE safeguarding and protection team if you have a concern about elder abuse. For example, if you have a concern about how someone is being treated in private care or by their family, a neighbour, or carer.

Contact HSE Your Service Your Say to give feedback about the care of an adult who is vulnerable but does not have a disability and is not over age 65.

HSE Your Service Your Say

Your Service Your Say is the HSE's complaints process. You can report a concern to the HSE as well as or instead of through the Office of the Confidential Recipient.

Page last reviewed: 11 January 2023
Next review due: 11 January 2026