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Act4Age: Staying well, feeling good

Colin Flinn

'We should be treated as friends, not robots to be fed and watered, medicated and left sitting all day.'

Key facts

  • 69% of people over 75 years have a long standing illness.
  • There are 19,000 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland, with the numbers expected to rise to 23,000 people by 2017 and around 60,000 people by 2051.
  • People who live in the least deprived areas could expect to live in good health for approximately 13 years longer than people who live in the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland.
  • There has been a reported increase in the number of cases of alleged abuse of older people, rising from 1715 in 2011-12 to 3023 in 2013-14.

We want everyone in later life to enjoy better health for longer, to remain as independent as possible and to receive the best quality, personalised care in later life.

Why does this matter?

By 2025 the numbers of older people aged 85 and over will increase by 25,000 or 83%, with women at this age significantly outnumbering men.

Although life expectancy is increasing, healthy life expectancy is not increasing at the same rate. People are spending longer living with conditions that seriously affect their quality of life and current trends in obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases will also increase the need for care, leading to increasing pressure on our health and social care system.

There is a considerable amount of work to be done to address concerns about the availability of care to support people in their own home; the quality and standards of care in hospitals and care homes; the lack of clarity around eligibility for social care and the absence of clear guidance on payment for continuing health care outside a hospital setting.

Ensuring that older people are engaged in all decisions made about their care and support is vital, and safeguards, including the provision of advocacy support, should be available to older people, particularly for those who no longer have close family involved or where there are concerns about their capacity to make decisions.

The failure to invest in low level and preventative services, such as domiciliary care, results in an increasingly fragile and unresponsive social care system that is not meeting the needs of older people now and is not sustainable in the longer term.

Age NI believes that social care services, provided through a range of statutory, voluntary and community organisations, act as a lynchpin to prevent and address pressures elsewhere in the health and social care system. Innovative work undertaken by the Living Well project in Cornwall, which is based around the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Triple Aim approach, is delivering improved, positive outcomes for a range of stakeholders, including, for the cohort involved, a fall of 41% in all acute hospital costs; a fall of 8% in social care costs; 20% improvement in the wellbeing.

We want to see:

  • A clear shift towards prioritising funding for low level, preventative services and care at home
  • A new legislative framework for adult social care, based on human rights principles, providing clarity on entitlement and eligibility to access services and support.
  • A single Adult Safeguarding Bill, offering greater legal protection to older people who experience abuse.
  • The development and implementation of a new, effective model of funding social care following a public debate on fairness and sustainability in relation to social care.

What needs to happen now:

  • The development of a regional prevention strategy, focused on promoting good health and independence, reducing health inequalities and supporting older people to stay well and feel good.
  • Robust and responsive regulation and inspection processes that ensure that the care provided promotes the dignity and rights of older people.
  • The delivery of a quality, integrated health and social care system which recognises the rights, aspirations and diversity of us all and is based on the right to live a full life, with dignity, independence, security and choice.
  • Opportunities to test new models which aim to improve the wellbeing of older people, such as Living Well.


Last updated: Jul 04 2018

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