Author: Duane Farrell, Director of Policy
Published on 20 February 2014 04:00 PM
The time is now to make NI a great place to age
‘An ageing society affects everyone: these issues require open debate and leadership by the Government and all political parties. The challenges are by no means insuperable, but no Government so far has had a vision and coherent strategy’
These words, written about England’s Westminster government, resonate strongly here in Northern Ireland. Expectations are running high as we await the launch of the consultation on a new Ageing Strategy for Northern Ireland tomorrow. After 4 years (2005-2009) of an Ageing Strategy that saw the main indicators of older people’s well-being deteriorate, the time is now to make NI a great place to age.
The Ageing Strategy must support a solid government structure which will anticipate, plan for and respond to the complex range of opportunities and challenges facing older people today and in the future. It must:
- Be based on a vision that reflects the rights of older people as well as their needs
- Be clear about what needs to improve in the lives of older people, and how this will be achieved
- Recognise that older people are diverse and be able to respond positively to this diversity, addressing older people’s frequent experiences of ageism
- Be fully implemented and fully funded
- Demonstrate that it’s plans are clearly ‘additional’ to what government is already doing
- Be clearly able to monitor and measure successes and identify areas where more work needs to be done
- Ensure that the consultation process fully engages older people in their own spaces - in communities, residential homes and nursing homes. Older people themselves are experts in the issues they experience.
Our ageing population must be at the heart of the work of all government departments and agencies. It affects us all. The Ageing Strategy must be the vehicle to drive forward this change. Tomorrow’s launch of the public consultation on the new ageing strategy provides a super opportunity for people here to say how we make NI a great place to age. Get involved in the consultation. We cannot afford to get it wrong.