Saturday 1 October 2016

Additional respite care is needed for ageing population

Published 31/08/2015 | 02:30

The number of people aged over 85 is expected to rise to 136,000, an increase of 133pc
The number of people aged over 85 is expected to rise to 136,000, an increase of 133pc

Additional respite care must become a Government priority as our population of people aged over 65 is set to exceed the one million mark, according to Social Justice Ireland.

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The number of people who will reach their mid-60s will rise to almost one million by 2031, according to the National Social Monitor.

The document, from independent think tank Social Justice Ireland, says it is anticipating this significant rise in our ageing population, which will represent an 86pc increase from our current level.

The number of people aged over 85 will also rise to 136,000, an increase of 133pc.

"Planning to meet this challenge requires a comprehensive approach to care services that would include integrated services across the areas of GP care, public health nursing, home care supports, acute hospital care, rehabilitation and long-term care," the report details.

"Community care and home care support for people to remain in their own homes is a key and appropriate policy objective and coincides with the wishes of most older people.

"But this commitment does not appear to be supported in practice when we note the significant decrease in the provision of home help hours in recent years, especially at a time of population ageing."

The advocacy group is also recommending that the Government gives "far greater priority" to community care and is urging that the health budget is restructured accordingly. This would be in addition to providing more respite and long-stay care for older people and people with disabilities.

Other issues highlighted by the advocacy group include the housing and homelessness crisis. They say that "not enough is being done" and claim the current plans will go "nowhere near what is required to address the housing and homelessness crisis".

Dr Sean Healy, the director of the group, said the Government was focusing on the performance of the economy "far too much" and "not nearly enough on issues such as ageing, social housing and sustainability".

Rights

He warned that this will have "major implications for the wellbeing of individuals and society as a whole".

"A balance is required between the various aspects of life if the wellbeing of this and future generations is to be secured," Dr Healy added.

The group is recommending that an "off balance sheet mechanism" is put in place as it could create access to "low-cost finance required to address the lack of supply of social housing sufficient to eliminate waiting lists".

They are also calling for "adequate resources" to ensure the implementation of tenancy regulation to protect the rights of tenants.

The National Social Monitor, which is published today, also took in education, taxation, employment, rural development and sustainability.

It criticised the Government's climate policy as being "at odds with its economic growth policies", as greenhouse gas emissions will "overshoot the targets for the EU2020 targets for the domestic sector".

Irish Independent

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