The Government must harness Budget 2022 to build a new partnership between the
State and older people following the Covid-19 pandemic, Sage Advocacy has urged.
The national charity, which provides support and advocacy services to older people,
vulnerable adults and healthcare patients, said the Government’s first step towards a
new partnership should be to establish the previously promised Commission on
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director, Sage Advocacy said: “A year ago the Government
pledged to establish a Commission on Care which it had stated would assess how
this country cares for older people and ‘examine alternatives to meet the diverse
needs of our older citizens’.
“Fast forward 12 months and there has not been a single indication from the
Government that it intends to follow through with this pledge.
“In the meantime, older people, particularly those who live in nursing homes, have
been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 – some older people sadly lost their
lives and others their independence. We know from our advocacy work that in
general the pandemic has taken a huge toll on the well-being and mental health of
older members of our communities across Ireland.
“Budget 2022 must therefore address the inequalities and the fault lines that Covid-19 has exposed in our health and social care system – from Ireland’s high reliance
on residential nursing homes, to the lack of resources that are available to enable
older people to continue living in their own homes to the current generation of older
people who are living in hardship, often below the poverty line.”
Sage Advocacy’s latest research has shown no abatement in the demand for
independent advocacy as the number of referrals it received in the third quarter of
2021 for its services has hit a two-year high. The charity has also seen a sharp rise in
the number of new cases it has taken on in quarter three of this year.
Ms Lennon said while Sage Advocacy acknowledges that Budget 2022 will be
delivered against the backdrop of very difficult economic times it believes that more
than ever before there is an urgent need for good political leadership to reset the
current systems of health and social care.
“This is an opportunity to reconfigure our long-term support and care system in
Ireland and to invest in structures and services that protect people’s rights, we need
a system that supports people to continue living in their own homes.
“The State currently spends €1 billion a year on the Nursing Home Support Scheme
– we need to find a better way to spend that money,” Ms Lennon said