Sinn Féin has responded to the High 5 Campaign today with the following letter:
"Sinn Féin recognises that older people play an invaluable role in society, yet they are liable to face discrimination and inequalities in a range of services. They are particularly likely to face financial hardship.
New policies are needed to ensure that our growing population of older people have full equality. For example, in terms of educational opportunity, we will campaign for a new fees regime which assists older people to become involved in lifelong learning.
As joint leader in the Executive, Martin McGuinness has already appointed an older persons’ advocate as an interim measure to the appointment of an Older Persons Commissioner. Sinn Féin will ensure that a properly-resourced Commissioner for older people is appointed.
Sinn Féin is also demanding a comprehensive ‘Strategy for Equality for Older People’ to actively promote participation in the life of the nation. This should be based upon a fundamental review by the public sector across the island of the standards of living experienced by older people, including pension provision, cost of living, fuel poverty, disposable income and access to public services.
The needs, wishes and dignity of older people must be central to the care options which are available to them. The rights of older people who choose residential care need to be fully protected from the negative effects of either inefficiency or abuse. Those choosing home care need to be properly resourced and supported.
Appropriate care packages must be put in place for all citizens, particularly older people, being discharged from institutions including hospitals. Significant distress and inefficiency is caused by discharges which are delayed by the untimely planning of care packages, or disrupted by their ineffectual implementation. There must be seamless links between hospitals, trusts and society.
Sinn Féin supports free personal care for all senior citizens. We believe older people must be centrally involved in the planning and evaluation of health care delivery. Full and effective implementation of the Section 75 equality duties, involving meaningful consultation, would afford such an opportunity in relation to all public policies.
The safety of older people, particularly in their own homes, is a matter of community concern. Sinn Féin will seek to use the devolved policing and justice system, in conjunction with wider community safety initiatives, to address this need."