National Carers’ Strategy: Recognised, Supported, Empowered

Department of Health

The National Carers’ Strategy sets the strategic direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government Departments and agencies for carers.

This includes carers of people with dementia, the majority of whom live at home in their own communities and for whom carers are the cornerstone of their care. The Strategy is a Cross-Departmental Strategy. It sets out guiding principles, goals and objectives addressing priority areas (income support, health, information, respite, housing, transport, training, employment, children and young people with caring responsibilities) and a Roadmap for Implementation containing 42 Actions to be achieved on a cost-neutral basis in the short to medium term.

The four goals of the National Carers’ Strategy are to:

  • Recognise the value and contribution of carers and promote their inclusion in decisions relating to the person that they are caring for

  • Support carers to manage their physical, mental and emotional health and well-being

  • Support carers to care with confidence through the provision of adequate information, training, services and supports

  • Empower carers to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life

The implementation of the National Carer’s Strategy is reported in progress reports. The First Annual Progress Report (September 2012 – September 2013) can be accessed here.

The Second Progress Report (September 2013-September 2014 can be accessed here.  

The Third Progress Report (September 2014-September 2015) can be accessed here.

The Fourth Progress Report (September 2015-December 2016) can be accessed here.

The National Positive Ageing Strategy: Positive Ageing Starts Now

Department of Health

The National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS), published in April 2013, is a high level commitment from the Government outlining a vision for ageing and older people in ROI.

It is an over-arching cross-departmental policy that serves as a blueprint for age-related policy and service delivery across Government. It includes four national goals to serve as a direction in achieving the vision outlined:

  • Remove barriers to participation and provide more opportunities for the continued involvement of people as they age in all aspects of cultural, economic and social life in their communities according to their needs, preferences and capacities.

  • Support people as they age to maintain, improve or manage their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

  • Enable people to age with confidence, security and dignity in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

  • Support and use research about people as they age to better inform policy responses to population ageing in ROI

Each of these goals is underpinned by several objectives that are relevant to specific policy areas and cross-cutting objectives of combatting ageism and improving information provision.

Healthy Ireland provides the basis for the implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy. The Strategy committed to the development of an Implementation Plan, based on the strategic direction laid out in the NPAS. This is still under development, but will when developed facilitate:

  • Translation of the Goals and Objectives of the Strategy into action on the ground

  • Development of key deliverables in a more detailed manner, taking account of relevant linkages with other statutory agencies

  • Development of timelines and performance indicators

  • Specification of ‘direct responsible individuals’ across Government and wider civil society

For each of the National Goals and Objectives, Priority Action Areas were also identified in the strategy.  These were selected as key areas in which actions should be developed. They are intended to set the strategic direction for activity rather than prescribe the specific measures that will be taken to progress the implementation of the Strategy. 

Most recently the government have produced the Positive Ageing 2016 report which presents findings from a wide range of existing resources on what matters for older people. It sets out the evidence under the three pillars identified in the National Positive Ageing Strategy offering a benchmark for the future against which to measure progress.

Positive Ageing 2016: National Indicators Report can be accessed here.

Active Ageing Strategy 2014-2020 – Consultation Document

Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

NI’s ageing strategy, Ageing in an Inclusive Society, was published in 2005 and an active ageing strategy is currently being developed to replace the existing strategy. The purpose of the new strategy will be to transform attitudes to and services for older people.

When developed, it is intended to provide direction for Departments’ policies, make connections between a range of relevant Strategies and lead to the improvement of services for older people. As well as increasing the understanding of the issues affecting older people, the active ageing strategy is expected to facilitate a move away from an emphasis on needs, costs and burden of ageing to the promotion of rights, value and contribution of older people. NI’s national dementia strategy is referred to regularly in the consultation document. The consultation document has outlined five high level goals: independence, participation, care, self-fulfilment and dignity, all of which are significant goals for people with dementia. Feedback from The Active Ageing Strategy Consultation, which closed in May 2014, will inform the final version of the strategy due for publication in 2015. 

The Irish National Dementia Strategy

Department of Health

The Irish National Dementia Strategy, led by the Department of Health, was launched on 17 December 2014. The ROI Government made a commitment in The Programme for Government 2011-2016 to develop a National Dementia Strategy for Ireland by 2013.

The development of the strategy was informed by a research review, a review of international dementia policies/plans/strategies, review of Irish policy contexts, public consultation process, clinicians’ roundtable (2) on the national dementia strategy, workshops (2) with people with dementia and carers, and National Dementia Strategy Advisory Group. The aim of the Strategy is to improve dementia care so that people with dementia can live well for as long as possible, can ultimately die with comfort and dignity, and can have services and supports delivered in the best way possible. The Strategy identifies key principles to underpin and inform the full range of health and social care services provided to people with dementia, their families and carers. Six Priority Areas for Action have been identified in the Strategy, as follows:

  • Better awareness and understanding

  • Timely diagnosis and intervention

  • Integrated services, supports and care for people with dementia and their carers

  • Training and education

  • Research and information systems

  • Leadership

For each of the Priority Action Areas, considered key to the implementation of the Strategy, objectives are outlined, the area is discussed and Additional Actions are also identified. In the context of resource constraints, some of the actions will be implemented based on a review and reconfiguration of existing resources, whilst others will be progressed as resources become available in the future. The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive have agreed a joint initiative with The Atlantic Philanthropies with initial funding of €27.5m, with The Atlantic Philanthropies contributing €12m, and the HSE contributing €15.5m, to be used to implement the Strategy over the period 2014-2017. The National Dementia Implementation Programme aims to promote a greater focus on timely diagnosis of dementia and on the value of early intervention, along with the long-term objective of making people in ROI generally more aware and understanding of the needs of people with dementia, and of the contribution that those with dementia continue to make to our society.

Improving Dementia Services in Northern Ireland: A Regional Strategy

Dept. of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

The Bamford Action Plan 2009-2011 (DHSSPS, 2009) included a commitment by government to develop a regional dementia services strategy.

The Bamford Action Plan 2009-2011 (DHSSPS, 2009) included a commitment by government to develop a regional dementia services strategy.  A consultation process was carried out in 2010 to inform the development of the strategy.  This included consultation with a wide group of stakeholders and a targeted consultation for people living with dementia and their carers.  The strategy was formally launched in 2011 and aims to:

  • Promote a greater understanding of how dementia impacts on the lives of individuals, and how people can be supported to live well, with dignity and as valued members of our society.

  • Raise public awareness of dementia and how people can take some measures to reduce the risk of developing dementia or potentially delay its onset.

  • Encourage sharing of information on dementia to allow individuals, families and carers to make informed decisions.

  • Maximise independence and enhance daily living.

  • Respond to the voice of people with dementia and their carers, and promote access to earlier diagnosis and multidisciplinary assessment and support through further development of health and social care commissioning, thus placing the person with dementia, their families and carers at the centre of the care planning process.

  • Promote partnership working that recognises the pivotal role of carers and integrates the activity and skills of those who work in the statutory, community, voluntary and independent sectors.

The values underpinning the strategy are identified as dignity and respect; autonomy; justice and equality; safe, effective person-centred care; care for carers; and skills for staff.  A series of actions linked to one or more of these values were proposed.  These were reducing the risk or delaying the onset of dementia, raising awareness, promoting early assessment and diagnosis, supporting people with dementia, supporting carers, legislation and research.  The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety anticipated that the key actions required to improve services would be likely to cost an additional £6-8m per year. With additional support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, in September 2014 £11 million was allocated within the Delivering Social Change Initiative, targeting Raising Awareness; Information and Support for people living with dementia; Training and Development for those in the caring professions, both formally and informally; and Respite, Short Breaks & Support for Carers.   

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