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Call for urgent investment in Northern Ireland's home care

Outgoing commissioner critical of province's home care services

The health service in Northern Ireland is failing to meet the needs of older people, according to a senior official.

Older peoples commissioner Claire Keatinge, who leaves the job this week after four years, revealed in her final report that home care services across the provinces five health and social care trusts are at breaking point due to long-term lack of investment. She said people routinely have to be assessed as being in critical need before receiving any care, and she questioned the pay and training given to care staff.

Responding to the report, health committee chair Maeve McLaughlin of Sinn Fin said she was very concerned that the NHS was failing to meet the needs of older people.

How we care for older members of our community speaks volumes about us as a society,' the assembly member said.

If we are serious about keeping older

The health service in Northern Ireland is failing to meet the needs of older people, according to a senior official.

Older people’s commissioner Claire Keatinge, who leaves the job this week after four years, revealed in her final report that home care services across the province’s five health and social care trusts are at breaking point due to long-term lack of investment. She said people routinely have to be assessed as being in critical need before receiving any care, and she questioned the pay and training given to care staff.

Responding to the report, health committee chair Maeve McLaughlin of Sinn Féin said she was very concerned that the NHS was failing to meet the needs of older people.

‘How we care for older members of our community speaks volumes about us as a society,' the assembly member said.

‘If we are serious about keeping older people out of hospital and in the community then it is not rocket science that we should invest in care packages and residential and supported living options.’

She claimed that of the £83 million promised for community rather than hospital care by the Transforming Your Care strategy three years ago only £44 million had actually transferred.

Ms Keatinge criticised the 15-minute visits that people receive and said she had seen examples of older people being put to bed at 5.15pm, having had a meal at 3.15pm.

Stormont's Health and Social Care Board said financial constraints meant trusts had to focus on providing care to those with critical or substantial needs.

It said the 15-minute visits were ‘not a basic currency for determining what service a person receives’.

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