Age NI’s Vision of Social Care

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Age NI has a vision of what social care should look like – ‘quality integrated social care that recognises the rights, aspirations and diversity of us all, and is based on the right to live with dignity independence, security and choice.’

At the heart of our vision is a system that enhances wellbeing and independence, so that older people can continue to engage socially and maintain self-esteem, dignity and purpose. These ideas have been informed by older people and by a range of experts working in the field.

In order to realise this vision, we have developed the following set of principles and values that should underpin the provision of social care:

Valuing care

This means valuing older people, the choices they make about the care that they want and receive. It also refers to the value that we as a society place on care and the role of the carer.

Autonomy and Respect

Recognising the uniqueness and individuality of older people is essential if we are to promote and deliver culturally appropriate social care services.


The provision of social care needs to be driven by a clear and unambiguous set of legal rights and entitlements and that older people if needed, are supported in making decisions by the provision of independent advocacy.

Belonging and Inclusion

It is important that the provision of social care is also about older people maintaining links to their communities and families, as these meaningful relationships are important for combating isolation and exclusion.

Independence and Self-determination

It is important that the focus is on older people remaining independent and that the emphasis is on the outcomes that they want for themselves, instead of a list of pre-determined services.

Therefore, the language of care should shift from one of services to one of rights, needs and outcomes. This means that assessments should be a consideration of a person’s social care needs and the outcomes they wish to achieve and should not focus on the person’s suitability for a particular service. The current narrow reach of a needs assessment ignores the outcomes that older people want from the provision of care, such as housing, transport, and broader issues such as personal identity, self-esteem, social and intimate relationships and a sense of belonging to and participating in their community. Incorporating human rights and equality principles into social care can reinforce the importance of these broader issues.

Age NI’s Four Key Priorities:

  1. A fundamental review of social care in Northern Ireland based on our vision of social care
  2. Older people’s voices and experiences must be central to this social care reform
  3. A new system must prioritise preventative services, both to improve the quality of life of those who use a service and also to intervene before care needs become high and expensive
  4. A public debate about fairness and sustainability in relation to social care

Next page:
People First: Community Care in Northern Ireland

Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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