Sage Advocacy has welcomed the proposal in the draft Programme for Government to establish a Commission on Care to examine care and support for older people.
But the organisation which supports vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, has warned that the programme is also a “curate’s egg” for older people, because although it pledges to foster an “age friendly Ireland” it fails to deliver a joined up system of support to enable older people to live in their own homes for as long as possible.
Sage Advocacy said it is deeply disappointed that the draft Programme for Government reflects a determination to maintain the current two tier system, with two separate systems of long term care and support for older people – one focused on home and the other on nursing homes and congregated care.
Mervyn Taylor, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, has questioned whether this really is the “vision of Ireland for all ages’’ that the Programme for Government wants to achieve?
He said since the late 1960s numerous research and policy documents have continually emphasised that older people should be enabled to live in their homes for as long as possible.
Mr Taylor added: “We do welcome many of aspects of the draft Programme for Government with regard to older people. It is good in recognising the role of housing in providing a wider range of living options, good in recognising the needs of family carers but it is bad in respect of long term care and provides no clear statement about the development of a single tier integrated system with a single source of funding and a bias towards home.
“The proposed Commission on Care also must be about implementation of already existing policies rather than procrastination through yet more reviews of policy.
“The challenge now is to implement policies that we have had for decades. It is also to learn the lessons of Covid-19 and, in particular, to learn that when systems are not joined up vulnerable people can get forgotten about,” he said.
Latest figures show that during 2019 Sage Advocacy received 1,570 referrals for advocacy and dealt with 3,964 information and support issues.
Around 46 per cent of its work related to people living in the community, 27 per cent related to nursing homes and 23 per cent to acute hospitals.
For further information please contact Francess McDonnell: 087 1738762
Mervyn Taylor, Executive Director, Sage Advocacy, is available for additional comment or interview.
Background to policy:
The emphasis in all policy documents since the late 1960s has been on enabling older persons to live in their homes for as long as possible. This principle was strongly stated in The Years Ahead (1988), in successive reports by the National Council on Ageing and Older People (NCAOP) , in various Health strategy documents, in particular, the Shaping a Healthier Future, A Strategy for Effective Health Care in the 1990s and in all government programmes and health and care strategies since.
The consensus from the Forum on Long-term Care for Older People in 2016 was: “Why, despite decades of policy reports and recommendations to government, is there still a systemic bias towards care in congregated settings and no formal legislative basis for support and care in the community? (ends)