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Positive Ageing Strategy Implementation

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 16 June 2015

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Ceisteanna (593)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

593. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Health if his Department will act on the National Positive Ageing Strategy 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23312/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The 2011-2016 Programme for Government committed to completing and implementing the National Positive Aging Strategy (NPAS) so that older people are recognised, supported and enabled to live independent full lives. In our statement of Health priorities for 2015, the Minister for Health and I have reiterated our commitment to implementing the Strategy.

The National Positive Aging Strategy provides a vision for an age-friendly society and includes four National Goals and underpinning Objectives to provide direction on the issues that need to be addressed to promote positive aging. As Minister of State with responsibility for older people, I am driving implementation at the political level. The Strategy is a cross-Departmental one and my Department has an overall coordinating and collating role and a more direct role for the health-related objectives.

A key objective of this Strategy is to change the mindsets of decision makers across Government agencies and to raise the priority that is given to the concerns of older people. The first step in doing this is to establish a system of regular reporting on actions and initiatives that impact on older people, and these reports are regularly sought and collated by my Department. The fact that such reports are already and will continue to be required will in itself increase the focus that is given to older persons' issues, and these reports will be submitted for consideration by the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and Public Sector Reform chaired by An Taoiseach. Implementation is accordingly an ongoing process.

It is important to point out the many initiatives already in train which contribute to the Strategy's goals. For example, in the health sector, in the area of older people’s services and supports, the Review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme will be completed shortly. The Single Assessment Tool, which will allow for a systematic assessment of need and allocation of services to older people, is being developed by the HSE; measures are being taken to ensure integrated care for older patients, and palliative care services are being improved. The Deputy will also be aware that €25m was allocated in Budget 2015 to support services that provide alternatives to, and relieve pressures on acute hospitals. In April 2015, an additional €74m was allocated to further tackle the ongoing issue of delayed discharges in acute hospitals. The majority of these patients are older people, and these funds are being applied across both long term and short term residential services and at community level. As a result the waiting time for funding of approved patients under the Nursing Home Support scheme has fallen to four weeks now from eleven weeks in March.

A Healthy and Positive Aging Initiative (HaPAI) has also been established to implement the research objective of the National Positive Aging Strategy. It is a joint initiative between the Department of Health, the HSE’s Health and Well-being Programme and the Atlantic Philanthropies and will run from October 2014 to December 2017, with a commitment to Department of Health funding for a further two years. The Initiative will monitor changes in older people’s health and well-being linked to the Goals and Objectives of the Positive Aging Strategy. This will be done primarily through the development of positive aging indicators to be published every two years. A preliminary positive aging report will be published shortly. The HSE will also develop a physical activity communications campaign under the Initiative.

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