October 8th, 2020:

‘Inter-generational agreement’ needed on how care of older people will be paid for 

Future approach to long-term care should strengthen safeguarding

The need for a radical and new approach on providing long-term care to Ireland’s aging population has been highlighted, in a new report commissioned by Safeguarding Ireland.

The report said there is an unresolved ‘generational conflict’ in how the cost of caring for older people will be funded. Questions on how this can be borne fairly across generations, and how to better safeguard vulnerable adults, need to be addressed.

Funding Long Term Support and Care for Older People – A Safeguarding Perspective written by Dr. Michael Browne highlights the need for a radical shift in approach, far beyond analysing or amending current policy.

The discussion document identifies conflicts between people as:

  • ‘Citizens – who want the best possible care and quality of life for vulnerable older people
  • Taxpayers – who sometimes do not wish to pay to ensure that such care is available and
  • Family members – who may prioritise inheritance over care.’

The report said there is a need to develop policies and a funding model which achieve an ‘inter-generational solidarity’, with a shared benefit for all.

Included in the report are concerns that the current approach to wealth transfer is open to abuse – and that a new approach should strengthen financial safeguarding, uphold rights and radically expand housing options.

“There is a need to put a stronger emphasis on safeguarding people and ensuring that there are meaningful options for aging in place – either in one’s existing family home, in alternative community-based accommodation, or in purpose-built dedicated housing.”

Welcoming the report Safeguarding Ireland Chairperson Patricia Rickard-Clarke highlighted the importance of a strong commitment to upholding people’s rights.

“People have a right to access care in an appropriate setting to their individual needs. They also have a right to use their own assets to support their care needs without individual, cultural, or societal pressure to use their assets to fund other people’s expectations and aspirations.”

Commenting on the report Professor Emeritus of Social Policy at UCD Tony Fahey said as people become dependent and vulnerable, they can come under pressure, sometimes amounting to manipulation or abuse, to yield up their resources to the benefit of others.

“A necessary means to avoid individual-level financial abuse of older people is to have a coherent national system of care funding within which individual-level rights and responsibilities are clear and widely accepted as legitimate and just.”

In its conclusion, the report said debate is needed at all levels on future long-term care.

“In Ireland we now need to have the conversation about how to fully safeguard vulnerable older people individually and collectively, and how existing private and public money and assets can be used in a fair and equitable manner to provide long-term care and support for those who need it. This conversation needs to take place at individual, societal and political level.”

Patricia Rickard-Clarke said that the report also follows on from the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly in 2017, on responding to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population. “This report further advocates for reform to provide an equitable and responsive system to address aged care provision in Ireland. It also provides guidance to the Commission on Care which the government has committed to establishing and progressing in the Programme for Government,” she said.

More information, including the report Funding Long Term Support and Care for Older People – A Safeguarding Perspective, can be viewed at www.safeguardingireland.org.

Safeguarding means living safely, free from abuse or neglect. It means our choices, particularly if we are vulnerable, are clearly heard and respected.

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Safeguarding Ireland / Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.

Safeguarding Ireland

Safeguarding Ireland promotes safeguarding of vulnerable adults to protect them from was all forms of abuse by persons, organisations and institutions and to develop a national plan for promoting their welfare.