McAllister: I know first-hand how home care services are failing older people

Alliance Councillor Nuala McAllister has backed claims Northern Ireland’s five health trusts are at breaking point, adding her personal experience as her Grandfather’s carer opened her eyes to the fact the system is failing.

Raising the issue consistently over the past few years, the Councillor for North Belfast criticised the Health Minister for failing to meet the out-going commissioner for older people – adding his lack of leadership was having a direct impact on the growing problems.

Councillor Nuala McAllister said: “Before he passed away I was responsible for my Grandfather’s care. Holding down a full time job at the same time, I quickly realised that the so-called ’15 minute’ calls offered as a support mechanism were often more a hindrance than help.

“When he was at his worst my Grandfather often had to choose between going to the bathroom or having lunch. And while I was able to speak up for him and challenge the system there are many other older people alone, struggling with the same problems.

“Transforming Your Care is often talked up as the answer to everyone’s concerns, with the understanding that it will completely overhaul the health service as we know it. But from experience I immediately must question how the Health Minister can expect older people to stay at home and live independently, when his department fails to invest in the services needed to enable them to do so.

“Simply put, the domiciliary care system is failing our older people and while this is through no fault of the domiciliary care workers – who are stretched beyond their capacity to fulfil their roles – the fact the Health Minister wouldn’t even meet with the commissioner before she leaves the post only highlights further his lack of leadership on the issue.

“While my caring days are over, I will continue to speak up for and ensure that domiciliary care is overhauled with the needs of the older person at the centre of the system.”

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