Let's make 2021 the year of 'choice' for older people in Ireland

Let's make 2021 the year of 'choice' for older people in Ireland

Sage Advocacy is calling for the radical transformation of health and social care systems

Sage Advocacy wants 2021 to be the year when older people in Ireland are given the  opportunity to choose where they want to be cared for and supported. 

The national organisation, which is a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, is calling for a radical transformation of  the current systems of health and social care for older people in Ireland and a shift  away from the nursing home model in 2021. 

Sage Advocacy believes Covid-19 has exposed the weaknesses of Ireland’s current  health and social care systems. 

Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said: “The system needs to  radically change, we need a new vision and if we have learned anything from Covid 19 it is that Ireland’s long term health and social system is flawed – it does not allow  for the right care, in the right place, at the right time. 

“Our latest discussion document, Choice Matters, highlights that because our  current system is biased towards congregated settings, primarily the nursing home  model, it was not well equipped to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.” 

Ms Lennon said 2021 should be the year that older people get the opportunity to  choose where they want to be supported and cared for and she says for the majority  of people, this will be in their homes. 

“We know from our work that there are some people in nursing homes, not because  they need to be there, but because the supports they need to live at home are not  there. As well as the lack of choice for older people we also work with people who  are under 65 years of age and are receiving care in a nursing home because of a  lack of alternative options. 

“We need strong political leadership to shift the balance of care away from the  nursing home model and towards other alternative potentially cost-effective  approaches – let’s help people live well and age well in their own homes,” Ms Lennon  added. 

Sage Advocacy said among its key priorities for 2021 will be to support the 

new Commission on Care for older people, which was outlined in the Programme for  Government. 

Ms Lennon said: “We would hope to see this new Commission established as soon  as possible. We need to start building a new long term and support and care system  because the reality is that with our ageing society all of us need to act together in  

2021 to make change happen. We also believe that in 2021 the commencement of  the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and the Decision Support Service  should be fast tracked. 

“But for now, we welcome that nursing home residents have been given the opportunity to consent to receiving the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and will be  among the first people in the country to receive the vaccine. We know from our work  with nursing home residents and their families how difficult and distressing the last  year has been and that many people are still mourning the loss of loved ones. We  are very aware that the move to Level 5 restrictions has caused further anxiety for  residents and their families. 

“Throughout 2021 Sage Advocacy will continue to support and advocate for people  who are facing challenges in their lives, who may be vulnerable, who may have a  

disability and for whatever reason may have to depend on others at a particular time  in their lives. We will continue to ensure that peoples’ voices are heard and that their  rights, freedoms and dignity are protected.” 

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