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Author: Age NI
Published on 01 July 2011 12:00 AM

Age NI launches critical new report on older people’s view of health and social care in Northern Ireland at ‘Visioning Seminar’ in Belfast on 1 July

Age NI, the new charity combining Age Concern NI and Help the Aged in Northern Ireland, launches a critical research report today on the state of the social care system in Northern Ireland.  The report, ‘Would you eat sandwiches for your tea every night? – Older people’s views on social care in Northern Ireland’, clearly sets out the experiences of older people who were directly consulted with, to determine their views on social care.*

It comes as the UK eagerly awaits the publication of the Dilnot Review, the report from the Coalition Government’s Commission on the Funding of Long Term Care and Support.  While a number of participants reported positive experiences, discussion was dominated by a belief that the care system in Northern Ireland does not meet the needs of the people it is meant to support.

Anne O’Reilly, Age NI Chief Executive commented, ‘During consultation for this report, older people told us, ‘We’re made to feel like beggars’, ‘You can only be ill Monday to Friday’,  ‘We need to be listened to.’ One frustrated participant even posed the question for social care managers, ‘Would you like sandwiches for tea every night?’, highlighting all too clearly the lack of ‘care’ in our care service.   It is time for the listening to start and this means getting the debate on social care properly underway in Northern Ireland.  At today’s seminar, we are kick-starting that debate by launching our report and working with attendees to explore a vision for care where need is prioritised above cost-cutting.  The report’s findings clearly demonstrate that older people are being failed by a system that does not meet the social care needs (either physically or emotionally) of the people it is meant to.  Some older people felt that they were required to justify their need for care, or that they were in some way maximising what they could from ‘the system’.  They felt as though finances were determining the service they received, not their actual care needs, and that no consideration was given to the difficulties of becoming ‘a patient’ when you have been independent all your life.  Is this a care system that affirms ageing and the rights of all older people?  We do not think so.’

Anne continued, ‘The report compounds what Age NI has been saying for a long time -  a fundamental review of social care is needed in Northern Ireland and at it’s heart should be independence, choice and dignity for older people now and in the future.   By 2014, it is estimated that the population of NI will increase by 50,000, half of whom will be over 65.  We cannot wait any longer for action to ensure the continuity and quality of care for people in later life.   Age NI is calling on the new Northern Ireland Executive to tackle this issue head on and show real political leadership by prioritising a review of social care in the Programme for Government.  If we don’t speak out now, in five years’ time, our care crisis will be even worse.’

* Download PDF version of report:

opens link in new window 'Would you eat sandwiches for your tea every night? - 
Older people's views on social care in Northern Ireland' (July 2011)

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575