Age NI welcomes the establishment of an Expert Advisory Panel on Adult Care and Support by the Minister, Michelle O’Neill and the appointment of Des Kelly and John Kennedy to the Panel.
Duane Farrell, Age NI Charity Director commented, 'Social care services, provided through a range of statutory, voluntary and community organisations act as a lynchpin, preventing unnecessary hospital admissions and lengthy stays in hospitals and addressing pressures that are so evident in our health services.
'Much of the debate around social care is about cost and sustainability, the tightening eligibility criteria, lack of clarity around legal entitlement to support and the complex arrangements in place which make it difficult for people to get the support and help they need.
'Age NI believes that the focus of the Expert Panel should be about more than cost and payment for care, and that it must look at innovative models and structures which are co-designed with older people, help transform our health and social care services, deliver person centred outcomes, much needed savings as well as smooth transitions between care in the community and hospital.
'Plans for social care must also clearly link into changes happening as a result of the Bengoa report if we are to ensure integrated working between health and social care and improve the lives of older people.
'We recognise that radical changes are needed if our health and social care services are to respond positively to our ageing population, help people to stay well and feel good for longer, and deliver positive outcomes for older people now and in the future.
'We believe that this will require a clear and determined shift of structures, resources and priorities in health and social care towards investing in prevention and early intervention, enabling older people to live independently, with dignity and security, having choice and control over how they manage their lives.
'Age NI looks forward to sharing with the Experts appointed by the Minister the knowledge and expertise we have gained from working alongside older people across Northern Ireland.'