Author: Age NI - Duane Farrell, Director of Policy
Published on 22 May 2013 12:00 PM
When I think about care, I automatically think about protecting the people I love; what it means to do the right thing; and how I make sure my loved ones feel safe, respected and happy. Care is one of the most sensitive subjects any of us can face.
200,000 people in Northern Ireland are carers to children, parents, grandparents, siblings. They are caring for vulnerable people, frail people and people who are ill. Care touches the very heart of our community. And at the heart of it, we all want the best for the people we love who need additional support. That’s why it is so important that the support that is available is right.
Social care for older people is no different. Age NI believes that older people deserve access to quality, choice, security and dignity whatever their care needs are. Those are simple, basic requirements that I want for my life now, never mind in the years to come.
But these simple needs are not being met. The health and social care system we have in place today is no longer sustainable. It does not meet the needs of older people now, never mind have the ability to cope with the implications of demographic change.
The cost of treating older people is expected to grow by 30% over the next 10 years. By 2021 the 80+ population will have increased by 35%. Right now, Health and Social Care Trusts are already rationing services by only offering support to people with very high levels of social care needs.
There is a clear case for social care reform and there is a unique, timely opportunity in Northern Ireland to effect positive change now. TYC and the Adult Review of Health and Social Care by DHSSPS have finally shone a spotlight on the inadequacies of a system that is not fit for purpose.
Age NI has been calling for a radical reform of the health and social system for many years. When the individual needs of older people are not being met, there is a clear problem. When social care is not enhancing the well-being of all our citizens, we are being failed. When it is not supporting older people to maintain their self esteem and dignity then something must change. I for one do not want someone I love and care for to experience this failure at first-hand. And I do not want this for myself.