Leading Experts to Advise Minister on Adult Care and Support

Date published: 05 December 2016

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has appointed two leading experts in social care to help reform Adult Care and Support.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill
Health Minister Michelle O'Neill

Des Kelly and John Kennedy will form an Expert Advisory Panel to work closely with the Department, providing an independent perspective on potential solutions to meet the challenges facing the care and support system and ensure it is sustainable and fit for purpose.

Speaking about the appointments, Minister O’Neill said: “This is a key step in taking forward one of the key actions laid out in Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together.

“We are only too aware of the pressures facing the adult care and support system: an ageing population, increasing expectations from people using services, and of course, a very challenging economic climate.  These are all putting immense pressure on the system that cares for the vulnerable in our society, and the people who work in that system. 

“We see it every day, but we have to stop thinking in the short term and start planning for the future.  It is essential that we face up to these challenges and make the changes necessary to ensure we have a world class care and support system for decades to come.”

The Panel will begin its work by seeking views and suggestions from stakeholders through a Call for Evidence.  This Call, launched today and available on the Department of Health website, will run until 23 January 2017, and is asking all interested parties to submit evidence to the Expert Advisory Panel to assist them in their work.

The Minister continued, “Des Kelly and John Kennedy are respected experts with extensive experience in social care policy and practice.  I am confident that, with their help and advice, we will produce solid, evidence-based proposals for change.”

Mr Kelly said: “We are very much looking forward to working with Minister O’Neill and her Department on this challenging issue.  All the evidence tells us that adult care and support is close to breaking point, and if changes are not implemented soon it will have devastating consequences for those who rely on it.”

Mr Kennedy added: “We will be considering a wide range of evidence on effective interventions being used around the world, but we also want to hear what is already working well locally.  We encourage all interested parties to respond to the Call for Evidence and play a pivotal role in developing options for reform.”

Notes to editors: 

1. Des Kelly has a background in the residential care sector with both older people and other adults. From 2003-2016 Des was the Executive Director of the National Care Forum (NCF), a membership based organisation established to promote quality care outcomes for people receiving care and support services through the not-for-profit sector.   Des was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2007 for services to social care.  In July 2013 he was appointed a Commissioner on the Demos-supported Commission on Residential Care chaired by former Minister Paul Burstow MP.  He has a continuing interest in improving quality for those receiving care and support services, workforce development, innovation and change.

2. John Kennedy is an independent consultant in social care, with extensive experience in both social care operations and policy development.  From January 2001 to December 2015 he worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, where he was responsible for the strategic direction of the Care Services Department.  He is currently a trustee of the Wilberforce Trust, which is a charity providing accommodation and services to adults with learning disabilities.  He is also a trustee of the Residential Forum, the purpose of which is to promote the achievement of high standards of care for children and adults in nursing homes, residential homes and schools, and was recently appointed Honorary Lecturer at City University London. 

3. The Department of Health is carrying out a three stage process to reform adult care and support.  The first stage comprised an extensive pre-consultation in 2013.  The second stage involves the development of proposals for change, which will be informed by the Call for Evidence and the Expert Advisory Panel’s work.  The proposals developed will be subject to public consultation in April 2017.  The Department will seek to involve a wide range of stakeholders during the policy development process.

4. The Call for Evidence is intended to provide a mechanism to enable stakeholders to share examples and evidence as to how care and support can be improved to meet growing demand and changing expectations, and to provide suggestions as to how the care and support system can be sustainably funded to meet those needs.

5. The Call for Evidence will be open from 5 December 2016 to 23 January 2017, and can be accessed on the Department of Health website.

6. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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