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Author: Age NI
Published on 05 March 2012 12:00 PM

Age NI welcomes the publication of In Defence of Dignity: The Human Rights of Older People in Nursing Homes, an investigation report by the NI Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). 

Anne O’Reilly, Age NI Chief Executive commented, ‘We are shocked, but not surprised at the content of the report which we believe points to the lack of dignity, rights, security and choice at the heart of the health and social care system in Northern Ireland, particularly in nursing home care.  The consequences for older people are very real and for all to see in this report.
‘Age NI is appalled that the basic rights of some older people continue to be compromised in the 21st century.  It is a disappointing indictment on our health and social care system that some older people do not have regular opportunities to go outside; that their personal hygiene is being neglected; that they don’t have ready access to food and fluids throughout the day; or have access to timely and appropriate health care.  We know that many people working in care services are doing a fantastic job despite the failings of the existing system. However, the NIHRC investigation shines a spotlight on the legislative policy and regulatory gaps that exist in care provision and makes a series of recommendations for change to protect the human rights of older people in nursing homes across Northern Ireland. It is important that these recommendations are urgently addressed. 

‘This report cements what Age NI has been saying for a long time.  We believe that a fundamental review of the health and social care system is long overdue – the current system is not capable of meeting the needs of older people now, never mind in the future.  There is complacency and misplaced belief in Northern Ireland that the quality of health and social care provided here is adequate.  This NIRHC investigation is a realistic reminder that the human rights of older people are far from being realised and for many older people, their lives are being blighted by a failure to adhere to human rights principles in the provision of care.
‘The NI Executive has an immediate responsibility to act.  We need our political leaders to implement a system that supports our care providers to get dignified care right for every person, every time.  It is the system that is at fault for the continued failure to safeguard the dignity, choice, wellbeing and security of older people in care.  If we value older people, then we also need to value the people that care for them. 
‘The DHSSPS needs to oversee the implementation of a human rights-based approach to health and social care that leads to a major cultural shift in the way everyone thinks about dignity in care.  Age NI calls for positive leadership and a public debate to create a quality, integrated health and social care system that recognises the rights, aspirations and diversity of us all.  There is no time to lose – we must address this issue with urgency.


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