Thinking ahead? Exploring adult social care provision with older people in Northern Ireland

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Abstract

A plethora of government policies impacting older people in the United Kingdom (UK) have been strongly influenced by the rhetoric that service users should be actively involved in their social care; including decisions and delivery. User involvement is integral to the government's current drive to make service more “person-centred” or “personalised” in adult social care. However, there has been little engagement with the broader Northern Ireland public on future adult social care policies. It has been suggested that knowing preferences for the type of future care and where and how it should be provided can be valuable for service users, providers and policy-makers. Using a qualitative approach, this paper draws on data collected from three focus groups with people aged over 60 who are not in receipt of social care services. The focus groups took place between April 2016 and January 2017. The findings demonstrate that participants had limited knowledge and understanding of the current social care system in Northern Ireland. In addition, participants had not thought about their possible future care needs. The findings emphasise the importance of promoting and engaging the public in social care debates, particularly at a time when the need for reform of the health and social care system has been identified in Northern Ireland.

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