Academics from Queens University have presented Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland (COPNI) findings on the need to modernise Adult Social Care to researchers within the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The idea of a preventative support visit offered to all over 75s was explained as a way to improve choice and control for older people whilst aiding Government to better plan for the future.
The international academic team from Queens, Leeds and Penn State universities produced research as part of COPNI's report which called for modernisation and reform of Adult Social Care legislation. As part of this modernisation, COPNI called for the introduction of a preventative support visit, by a trained person, for older people upon reaching their 75th birthday. This advice to Government was reiterated by the academic team as they presented the findings as part of the NI Assembly Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS).
Speaking about the importance of a preventative support visit, the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said: "Adult Social Care enables thousands of older people to live independent lives within the community every year but many older people have told my office that the current system is too complex and it's unclear what help they are entitled to. Often older people's first interaction with these services is at the point of a crisis or sudden illness, leading to important decisions being made at short notice and with little information.
"Modernisation and reform of Adult Social Care legislation is urgently needed in Northern Ireland if we are to better support the changing needs of an ageing population. The introduction of a preventative support visit for everyone upon turning 75 would help older people to have more choice and control. They would be able to influence the type of help and support that would assist them to continue living independently in the community, rather than making life changing decisions at a point of urgency.
"Additionally, a support visit would assist Government with future planning as they could better predict the levels of social care and support that would be required by older people over the next number of years."
Speaking about the preventative support visit, Dr Joe Duffy, Lecturer in Social Work in Queens University who led the academic research team, said: "This would enable older people to exercise choice and control at an early stage in having their support needs assessed rather than having to make life changing decisions at a time of crisis which so often is the case for many older people".
To view COPNI's report 'Prepared to Care? Modernising Adult Social Care in Northern Ireland', click here.