Undignified care for older people is rooted in age discrimination and ageist attitudes.
That was the key message from an Age NI Conference on Human Rights Day, Tuesday 10 December, at which 80 delegates from NI’s health and social care sector gathered.
The Age NI conference was organised to raise awareness of the NI Executive’s commitment to introduce anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of age for goods, facilitates and services by 2016, and to examine the opportunities and challenges of promoting equality for older people when accessing health and social care.
Duane Farrell, Age NI Director of Policy said, ‘Today, with the support of our key note speakers, Nat Lievesley (Senior Analyst, Centre for Policy on Ageing) and Ros Levenson (Independent Researcher and Policy Consultant), we discussed the evidence of age discrimination and why age discrimination matters.
'Older people consistently tell Age NI that they feel invisible in the health and social care decisions that affect them. They want to have a voice and to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. Their experience is greatly removed from this vision at present. Recent examples in the media, including issues at the Royal Victoria Hospital and Cherry House Tree care home have put a spotlight on the failings of our health and social care system.
‘Age discrimination and human rights violations against older people can manifest themselves in many different ways, such as upper limits for intervention, prejudicial attitudes among health and social care providers, implicit age limits for certain services, or lack of referrals to specialist services, screening and preventative options. Ageism of this kind must not be tolerated.
‘The rights of older people are not being protected. On this, Human Rights Day, Age NI calls on DHSSPS to undertake an urgent review of age equality within health and social care.We don’t have to reinvent the wheel - work has already been undertaken in England to understand how age equality in health and social care can be achieved, and to ensure that dignity underpins older people’s services.
'We also continue to call on OFMdFM to accelerate proposals to achieve age equality in the area of goods, facilities and services which they pledged to do in this Assembly term.’