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Published on 08 October 2010 12:00 AM

Age NI is calling on decision-makers to put older people at the heart of public policy and urging them to invest to save now, in order to achieve a high quality sustainable health and social care system for the future.

In Opportunities for Ageing, a brief issued by the charity this week to senior civil servants, finance directors and policy makers across NI, figures from the Department of Health estimate that the cost of treating older people is expected to grow by over 30% in the next ten years.*

Anne O’Reilly, Age NI Chief Executive commented, 'We are currently living through a time of great economic and demographic change and figures such as a projected 30% increase in care costs in ten years add greater impetus to our budgeting and planning needs. Decision-makers need to invest to save now and focus on the provision of preventative measures in health and social care. A perfect example of this forward thinking approach is the ‘Flower 90’ art exhibition which launched this week. The exhibition features artwork from residents of the Meadowbank Dementia Care Centre in Omagh and reflects the importance of adopting a modern and responsive social care system that allows older people to retain their dignity and self-fulfilment in later life.'

'The idea that preventing ill health is a way of controlling costs is not new to health and social care. In fact figures from an evaluation of the Partnerships for Older People’s Projects (POPPS) show that for every £1 spent on ill-health prevention services for older people, hospitals save £1.20 in spending on emergency beds.** In economic terms early and sustained support in the community is better for older people and cheaper for the tax payer in the long run.'

She added, 'Age NI is calling on the government to undertake a fundamental review of the social care system in Northern Ireland with a view to developing a care system which focuses on rights, entitlements and fairness. Until this review takes place it is imperative that a commitment is made to maintain social care spending. We must ensure that older people have fair, equal access to services within our health and social care system that enables them to live fuller, happier and longer lives.'

* DHSSPS (2009) Strategic Resource Framework, Belfast. TSO

** PSSRU (2010) The National Evaluation of Partnerships for Older People Projects: Executive Summary, Kent. PSSRU

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