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Author: Age NI - Duane Farrell, Director of Policy
Published on 03 May 2013 02:00 PM

This week has been incredibly difficult and stressful for many older people. Moving home can be one of the most stressful periods in life at any age.

Many of us have experienced a move and all that entails - worrying about what we are leaving behind and feeling anxious about what the future holds. It’s this anxiety that many older people are feeling, caused by proposals from Health and Social Care Trusts to reduce the number of statutory care homes available here.

Age NI has been calling for social care reform for years. We are all still living within the constraints of a social care system that was designed 20 years ago, and legislation that was passed some 40 years ago. Older people’s needs are not being met. Too many people have to reach crisis point before satisfactory intervention and support. We all deserve access to quality, security, dignity, choice and independence no matter what our care needs are or wherever they happen to be delivered.

However, the long term objectives of the Transforming Your Care Report to improve delivery of social care in later life have been temporarily lost in the confusion and frustration that mismanagement has created. Age NI believes that improving access to, and the quality of social care is in all our interests. However, the voice of older people must be at the heart of any change and right now, this is not the case.

The effect a home closure has on residents’ health and well-being is most likely to be influenced by the way in which it is closed and how relocation is managed as our evidence review demonstrates (PDF 215KB). It is obvious to me that the process to date has not been properly managed. Older people have been failed up until now.

The only matter that deserves everyone’s attention right now is the support needed for older people who are affected by possible home closures. Let’s stop assuming what these older people want. Let’s stop assuming that they are not capable of any change. Let’s stop assuming that their age prevents them from having a loud, clear voice.

Let’s start listening properly and give older people the right to the dignity, choice and independence that they deserve.

Health Trusts must act quickly and comprehensively to ensure that older people in affected care homes are properly communicated with, listened to and supported to take part in any possible discussions about their future. Older people must be afforded time, privacy, and support to have their say, safely heard and protected from other agendas and the political spotlight.

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