Speech by Minister Brady at the Launch of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) National Report, NUI Galway

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be here today to launch the National Report of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) entitled ‘the Role of Migrant Care Workers in Ageing Societies’ written by Dr. Kieran Walsh and Professor Eamon O’Shea.

I would like to thank Professor O’Shea for his kind invitation to speak to you today, and Atlantic Philanthropies for funding this timely and valuable report.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to all those who participated directly in the research and the organisations that facilitated and supported this project, including the Galway Migrant Service Centre, Nursing Homes Ireland, the Central Statistics Office and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.

Office for Older People:

As Minister for Older People, I have responsibility for the Office for Older People. This Office reinforces most clearly the commitment of the Government to enhancing the lives of our senior citizens. My aim is to ensure that our vision of a unified approach to the challenges and opportunities presented by our ageing population is realised and that older people receive the support and encouragement they need to continue to enjoy life.

One of the priorities of my Office is the development a Strategy for Positive Ageing. My goal is to develop a meaningful and innovative strategy that will result in real improvements in the lives of older people. I intend that the new strategy will cover all sectors relevant to older people, not just health. It will focus on a broad range of issues, including those relating to older people’s participation in society and the ways in which programmes and services for older people are organized and used. It will also concentrate on issues such as income, health and social care, housing, transport, education and employment. The Strategy is being developed by a Cross-Departmental Group, chaired by the Director of the Office for Older People. It is also intended that there will be an Expert Advisory Group and a Liaison Group composed of the key Non-Governmental Organisations representing older people.

In June, I called for submissions on the Positive Ageing Strategy. This is the first time that there has been such a wide-ranging consultation between Government and older people about matters that affect them. The closing date for the public consultation process was yesterday. The next step will be to consider in detail all submissions received, with a view to progressing the Strategy as planned.

Inspection of Nursing Homes by HIQA.

The safety and well-being of older people living in nursing homes is of critical concern. Residents, their families and the public need to be reassured that the care people receive in nursing homes is properly monitored. It is essential therefore to have effective mechanisms to maintain and enhance public confidence in the delivery of quality residential care. The process of the registration and inspection of nursing homes by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) commenced on 1st July last. This has, for the first time, introduced an independent system of inspection of both public and private nursing homes. Under the Health Act, 2007, statutory responsibility is given to the Chief Inspector of Social Services, part of HIQA for inspecting and registering residential services for children, older people and people with disabilities.

We now have in place a quality standard and regulatory regime monitored by an independent inspectorate which will guarantee the welfare and safety of our older citizens.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act.

Another important recent development has been the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act which was signed into law by the President on 1 July 2009. It is Minister Harney’s intention to implement the scheme in the final quarter of this year. The scheme will ensure that nursing home care is affordable for all who need it regardless of whether they choose a public or private nursing home bed.

The Importance of Carers.

I am very much aware of the invaluable role played by carers who give support to, and contribute greatly to the well-being of people in their care. In many instances, the presence of carers facilitates older people to maintain a level of independence and mobility that would otherwise not be possible without this invaluable support.

Caring for people can be very challenging. It demands of the carer a wide range of skills and an ability to empathise with those in their care, when they are feeling stressed, vulnerable or frustrated. It is inspiring to see the dedication and commitment shown by carers on a day to day basis as they care for older people with dignity and respect. Being a carer can be a very rewarding experience and I understand that carers interviewed for this report highlighted some of the positive aspects of their work as making a difference, emotional attachment, friendship and personal growth.

The Law Reform Commission (LRC) has recently published a consultation paper on the Legal Aspects of Carers which provides many interesting and topical issues in this important area. The Department of Health and Children is also considering the issue of regulation of home based care and hopes to progress this work, in the context of overall priorities for older people generally.

The ICSG Report.

The social and cultural landscape of Ireland has changed dramatically over the past few years reflecting an increased cultural diversity resulting from migration. As a society we need to embrace the richness that this diversity brings to our lives and understand the implications of these changes in order to plan into the future.

This timely report ‘The Role of Migrant Care Workers in Ageing Societies’, examines this issue and explores the factors that can influence the sustainability of the migrant care workforce in Ireland.

As we move forward, migrant care workers will continue to be an invaluable asset in older adult care in Ireland. Therefore, as a society, we need to ensure that the entitlements of both older people and migrant carers are protected.

The objectives of this report were obviously the subject of much thought and relevance. In particular, the issues such as the experiences and future roles of migrant carers and the inter-relationships between such workers and older people were well worth exploring. Overall, the Report set out to best protect both migrant carers and those in their charge.

The eight main recommendations of the Report, ranging from person-centred care through addressing cultural differences, integration, support structures; and rights and entitlements raise very important issues. I will certainly ensure that the Report will receive more detailed consideration in developing the Strategy for Older People.

I understand that this report was completed as a part of a larger collaborative project looking at Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada. Collaboration such as this can only contribute to a greater understanding both nationally and internationally, on the issues which face migrant care workers as they continue to play a vital role in caring for our older people.


Finally, I must congratulate all those involved in bringing this timely and relevant report to fruition.

Thank you once again for your warm welcome here today.

Thank you.