A fundamental review of the social care system is urgently needed, demands Age NI report
With the full impact of the budget yet to be felt, an Age NI report released today (April 7) highlights that social care provision is already on the decrease and older people are suffering as a result.
The Agenda for Later Life 2011 report, a definitive annual publication from the older people’s charity, quotes figures from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, which show that 176 less care packages have been provided to older people and there was a 10% reduction in meals on wheels provision.
The report also estimates that the cost of treating older people is expected to grow by 30.6% over the next ten years. Evidence shows that Northern Ireland has a 9% greater need for health and social care when compared with England. This coupled with our ageing population, which is set to increase to one in four of the total population by 2030, means the capacity of the social care system to maintain the independence and dignity of older people will be severely limited if a fundamental review of social care is not undertaken immediately.
Speaking ahead of the Caring for an Ageing Population Seminar today, Duane Farrell, Age NI’s Director of Policy said, ‘The Minister for Health has admitted that the current system of care is in crisis. This view is being supported by Age NI’s work with people in later life. We have heard from older people who are struggling to manage their care needs, many of whom are not being assessed and some are having their services withdrawn or cut back to meet budgetary demands. It is now time for a fundamental review of the social care system, but in the meantime we need a commitment to maintain spending on social care until a new system is put in place.’
Mr Farrell continued, ‘Age NI is calling on the incoming Northern Ireland Executive to tackle this issue head on and show real political leadership. We can no longer wait on developments elsewhere before we take action – action is needed now. Age NI believes that dignity, independence and choice should be at the heart of the new social care system.’
The Northern Bank’s Chief Economist, Angela McGowan, added, ‘A society which does not plan to meet the needs of an ageing population is myopic to say the least. Making small adjustments now could make a huge difference to future quality of life, future care and future costs. For example, placing a greater emphasis on the prevention of illness and the well being of older people will improve the quality of life for older people and also reduce costs in the long term.’
Download the Agenda for Later Life 2011 (PDF 827KB)