Health promotion policy

Healthy Ireland – A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025

Department of Health

Healthy Ireland is ROI’s national framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of ROI, published in 2013. Its main focus is on prevention and keeping people healthier for longer.

Healthy Ireland’s goals are to:

  • Increase the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life

  • Reduce health inequalities

  • Protect the public from threats to health and wellbeing

  • Create an environment where every individual and sector of society can play their part in achieving a healthy Ireland

Healthy Ireland takes a whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approach to improving health and wellbeing and the quality of people’s lives. While there is no explicit mention of dementia in Healthy Ireland, one of its key goal is to decrease the prevalence of unhealthy behaviours that contribute to chronic disease, and to increase the degree to which diseases and conditions are either prevented, or detected early enough to allow for successful intervention.

With respect to dementia, whilst ageing is the strongest risk factor for dementia and genes can play a part, the likelihood of developing dementia is also influenced by a number of cardiovascular risk factors and factors related to lifestyle including physical exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and cognitive activity. There is strong evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of dementia. Under the National Dementia Strategy, public awareness and health promotion measures are to be implemented by the Health Service Executive to support the implementation of Healthy Ireland by highlighting the modifiable lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors which can beneficially impact on risk and time of onset of dementia. 

Two surveys have been completed since the publication of the Healthy Ireland Framework and links to the reports on these surveys are included below.  Links to a number of other policy documents and reports are also included. While these may not be directly related to dementia, they have relevance in terms of wider approaches to the prevention of dementia.

  • Healthy Ireland Survey 2015 Summary of Findings can be accessed here.
  • Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 Summary of Findings can be accessed here.
  • Tobacco Free Ireland can be accessed here.
  • Tobacco Free Ireland Action Plan can be accessed here.
  • A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025 can be accessed here.
  • Get Ireland Active: the National Physical Activity Plan can be accessed here.

Making Life Better: A Whole System Strategic Framework for Public Health, 2013-2023

Dept. of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Making Life Better is NI’s ten-year strategic framework for public health. Building on the earlier public health strategy, Investing for Health (2002), Making Life Better was developed to provide a direction for policy and actions to improve the health and wellbeing of people in NI.

It was informed by a consultative process and feedback on the draft framework titled Fit and Well: Changing Lives.  

Through strengthened co-ordination and partnership working in a whole system approach, Making Life Better seeks to create the conditions for individuals and communities to take control of their own lives and move towards a vision for NI where all people are enabled and supported in achieving their full health and wellbeing potential.

Making Life Better has adopted a set of values to underpin the strategy – social justice, equity and inclusion, engagement and empowerment, collaboration, evidence informed, and addressing local need. Based on feedback during the consultation, it takes a thematic approach structured around six themes:

  1. Giving Every Child the Best Start

  2. Equipped Throughout Life

  3. Empowering Healthy Living

  4. Creating the Conditions

  5. Empowering Communities

  6. Developing Collaboration

Apart from Theme 1 which focuses on the health and wellbeing of children, each of the other five themes is relevant to people with dementia and their families. Healthy Active Ageing, one of the key long-term outcomes of the second theme ‘Equipped Throughout Life’, is of particular relevance to older people, including those with dementia. One of the long-term outcomes identified under the theme of ‘Empowering Healthy Living’ is improved mental health and wellbeing. Here, the report highlights the intention in the development of a new positive mental health promotion policy in NI to address two main undertakings in relation to dementia:

  • public health efforts to prevent/delay dementia as far as possible and to encourage early diagnosis; and

  • improving the mental wellbeing of people who have dementia.

A final report on the public health strategy, Investing for Health (2002), referred to above,   can be found at