Press Release

Minister O’Malley launches health promoting guidelines for facilities catering for older people in long term residential care

Private and public nursing homes, and other facilities, caring long-term for older people in Ireland are being invited to enroll in a new scheme to promote healthy ageing.

Mr Tim O’Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today (27th January 2005) launched the health promoting guidelines for facilities catering for older people in long term residential care.  The launch, which took place in St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park, highlighted a 10 step focus on the care of older people who live in residential care.  This 10 step focus aims to help keep them healthy, maintain their interest and zest for life and to continue as active members of the community as far as possible.

The joint initiative is being developed through the National Council on Ageing and Older People and the Health Promoting Hospitals Network in Ireland. The Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare is supporting evaluation of the initiative, as assessment of how the initiative has contributed to healthy ageing in the residential setting is vital to all partners.

The primary goals of the initiative are:

  • To support residential care facilities in realising and acting upon their health promoting capacity.
  • To assist residential care facilities to adopt a health promotion aspect to their daily work.
  • To achieve the goals through supporting facilities in completion of the “Ten Steps to Healthy Ageing”.

A National Co-ordinator is being put in place to advance the scheme and support the centres enrolling in the initiative. The National Co-ordinator will work closely with all other relevant local and regional professionals with responsibility for older persons services.

The setting up of patient interest groups in residential facilities to give residents a voice is encouraged. The initiative has proposed that a survey of residents should be carried out to determine five priority areas for patients. A consultation framework to be used in the survey has also been devised.

The initiative hopes to introduce structures which would make it the norm for patients to become more actively involved in their care and to safeguard the individual person.  Audited centres, or facilities, that meet the criteria will be certified for Healthy Ageing Status as part of the process.

Ten steps to Healthy Ageing

The 10 steps are outlined under a series of questions. They are contained in a self appraisal questionnaire for homes and other facilities. This comprehensive questionnaire covers themes impacting on the daily life of residents. They include consultation; a healthy ageing policy and how it is practiced; the level of choice offered in various aspects of daily living, information practices; personal space and belongings; independence; lifestyle which covers issues such as regular community involvement, learning opportunities and physical exercise; staff and their health and Step 10 covers family friendly matters and facilities for visiting.

Many innovative and imaginative projects promoting health gain for long-term residential care have been undertaken by members of the Health Promoting Hospitals and health service organisations network.

There are many examples where staff have developed, often through their own initiatives, arts in residential care settings, holiday schemes, a wide range of interests such as dancing, varied weekly activities, music and physical exercise.

Many centers use reminiscence therapy to renew links with the sights, sounds and smells of that made up a lifetime’s experience for many of their residents’ lives in rural Ireland. Visits are made to sites and centers to renew their residents’ memories of the past, while others have arranged holidays for the entire residential unit, organising a wide range of outings and activities to suit all members.

The HPH network will continue to work and support parallel developments aimed at improving care throughout the services for older people living in residential care.