Health Minister to Establish Commission to Reform Adult Care and Support

Date published: 09 March 2016


Health Minister Simon Hamilton today announced his intention to establish a Commission to review adult care and support.


The new three-person Commission on Adult Care and Support will be tasked with assessing the many challenges facing the care and support system, and producing a set of recommendations to reform the system and its funding structures to ensure its future sustainability.

The Minister made the announcement at the Alzheimer’s Society Conference today in Malone House, Belfast. Speaking at the conference, the Minister said: “Adult care and support care plays a vital role within our health and social care system. It helps tens of thousands of people every week in Northern Ireland maintain their independence and quality of life by supporting them to remain in their own homes as long as possible, or by caring for them in residential and nursing homes. It also ensures the smooth running of our hospitals by preventing unnecessary admission and facilitating timely discharge.

“However, the system is facing unprecedented challenges due to huge increases in demand. The current cost of dementia services is estimated at £460m per annum. It is estimated that currently in NI, about 19,000 people aged over 65 have dementia. The ‘ageing’ of the Northern Ireland population means that the number of cases is estimated to rise to over 23,000 by 2017 and to over 60,000 by 2051.

“We simply won’t be able to cope without change. We need to start a public debate and think innovatively to ensure the care and support system of the future is put on a sustainable footing.”

The Minister continued: “Professor Rafael Bengoa has already been tasked with looking at the optimal model for the health system, and it is only right that a similar focus is given to adult care and support. I therefore intend to establish a new Commission on Adult Care and Support to provide expert, independent analysis of the challenges facing the system and to think radically about what changes must be made to safeguard it for future generations.

“I have asked my officials to begin the process of designing this commission and to develop its terms of reference. This is our chance to get it right, to make sure the adult care and support system can go the distance, can look after the people who need it and support our health system to do its job. This is our chance to innovate and to put in place a care and support system that is world class. This is our chance to safeguard our future generations. We cannot let this chance go by.”

Notes to editors: 

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