Our manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly election 2022

04 April 2022

The BGS has published a manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly election outlining how an incoming Government can better support older people.

It has been more than two years since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Northern Ireland, marking the beginning of an incredibly challenging time for everyone who works in health and social care and for society more generally. Health and social care services have been required to go above and beyond the call of duty over the previous two years and unfortunately such enhanced levels of working are still necessary in order to cope with ongoing COVID-19 demands.
There can be no denying that older people have borne the brunt of the pandemic with 83.7% of the COVID-related deaths in Northern Ireland between March 2020 and October 2021 occurring in those aged over 70. Older people were more susceptible to developing the virus and were more likely to die of it if they did catch it. Many older people who survived COVID will now be experiencing the long-term side effects of the virus. The pandemic has also impacted older people who did not get COVID but may have been less active during lockdowns and have deconditioned as a result. It is likely that there are a significant number of older people with frailty who did not have frailty before the pandemic or who now have moderate or severe frailty, having had mild frailty previously. The pandemic has also had a considerable impact on the mental health of many older people, with a significant number reporting that they feel less confident and independent than they did previously.
Aside from the pandemic, Northern Ireland’s population continues to age. In 2019, 17% of the population of Northern Ireland was aged over 65. This figure is projected to rise to 26% by 2051.
While an ageing population is to be celebrated and cherished, it also means that we have more people with multiple complex conditions who require care and support.
The incoming Northern Ireland Executive has an opportunity now to ensure that the legacy of the pandemic is an improved health and social care service that meets the needs of its biggest user group – older people.
Political parties wishing to achieve this should prioritise the following:
  1. Providing a refreshed and sustainable health and social care workforce
  2. Ensuring older people are central to COVID recovery
  3. Bringing care closer to home for older people
  4. Implementation of advance care planning process
  5. Addressing digital exclusion in healthcare
  6. Strengthening services that provide value to older people

To download a copy of the full manifesto, please click here.

If you have any questions about this election manifesto, please contact Sally Greenbrook, Policy Manager, at s [dot] greenbrook [at] bgs [dot] org [dot] uk. If you have a media enquiry, please contact Susan Patterson, Communications, PR and Media Manager at s [dot] patterson [at] bgs [dot] org [dot] uk.