Dignity is a fundamental human right and must be at the heart of our health and social care system, attendees at a major conference at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University Belfast will hear today.
The conference, Health & Social Care - Getting the Right Approach, organised by Age NI in partnership with the ARK Ageing Programme, brings together a range of leading experts from the fields of academia, public policy and public services.
Linda Robinson, Age NI Chief Executive explains, ‘Age NI speaks with thousands of older people and their family, friends and carers every year. Health and social care is one of the main issues that people are concerned about. Older people like Marj and Margaret who are speaking at today’s conference believe that outdated and ageist perceptions of later life continue to permeate and drive health and social care provision. Our conference, in partnership with ARK Ageing Programme, is an opportunity to hear from colleagues in England, Scotland and Wales about initiatives which improve the dignity and participation of individuals in health and social care, and as a result improve outcomes.
‘We are privileged to have the invaluable input of John Williams, Professor of Law at Aberystwyth University, and to hear from older people, Marj and Margaret, whose experiences left their dignity and independence compromised. Older people tell us regularly about instances where their dignity is not upheld, and their participation is not sought in decisions which impact directly on them. They tell us time and time again that the system is taking priority over the individual.
‘As our society ages, we need a system that is responsive to the changes required to deal with this reality. Change is needed to keep people healthier for longer, and also to build a health service that can respond to the care and support which people will require. Age NI believes that placing dignity and rights central to the change process will drive the reform that we need to see for us all as we age, and result in a world class health and social care system in Northern Ireland as envisaged in Transforming Your Care. It is time that widely accepted recommendations are resourced and implemented.
‘To achieve this, we believe that the voices of older people must be at the centre of implementation for all reforms, making better, more responsive policies, improving service delivery, and ensuring quality regulation.
Dr Paula Devine, Coordinator of the ARK Ageing Programme added, ‘We are delighted to support engagement at our conference with Age NI today on one of the most important public policy issues we face in Northern Ireland. It is an opportunity to provide evidence-based analysis of the key issues affecting older people in health and social care in Northern Ireland and the next step in a process which enables older people, policy makers and service providers to improve outcomes for older people and influence policy and service delivery.’