Ageing in Northern Ireland: An evidence-based approach to prioritising action

Christine Liddell

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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    This report was commissioned by Age NI in July 2013. It aims to review the current scientific evidence base on ageing, specifically related to poverty and social exclusion, using this to frame a rationale for future engagement in two or three new strategic areas. The report contains 11 short chapters. The first 2 chapters set out the context of the commissioned report, and the theoretical framework in which it is situated, namely developmental systems theory (DST). Age NI is conceptualised as a mesosytemic broker between older people and the government/public service agencies that seek to provide for them. In this role, the organisation represents the voices of older people, and can facilitate the translation of those voices into actionable strategies and accountable targets. Further, DST endorses a lifespan approach to human development, in which transition points are where support is most effectively focused. Chapter 3 explores the voices of older people as these are expressed in the context of poverty and social exclusion. Compelling evidence exists for the importance older people assign to rather modest conditions, such as living in a warm home that is free from damp. Chapter 4 then illustrates the extent to which older people are least likely to be living in one. Chapter 5 describes the broad policy contexts of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland, situating the concept within the network of strategic interventions being undertaken by the Department For Social Development, OFMdFMNI, and local authorities. Chapter 6 contains a case study which highlights the burden that fuel poverty can place on a retired person, but also the complexities sometimes associated with solving it. It is followed by Chapter 7, which outlines 10 good reasons for not only focusing on fuel poverty, but on a wider agenda of Decent Homes Fit for Purpose. This Chapter yields a multi-faceted rationale for finding more effective solutions to fuel poverty, especially among people over 75 years old.Chapter 8 discusses innovative action plans for achieving more Decent Homes Fit for Purpose. It proposes the foundation of Thematic Action Groups (TAG’s), led and largely populated by older people. Four TAG’s are outlined, each focusing on an area of fuel poverty hitherto ignored, not just in Northern Ireland but worldwide. A set of indicators, both long- and short-term, are outlined in Chapter 9; these can help set targets, and monitor progress in achieving them. In Chapter 10, possibilities for a second priority action are then explored, based on themes currently emerging from the literature on ageing. Three themes are covered, namely transport, longer working lives, and a reframing of later life into needs-based transition points. The report argues that the last of these fits best with developmental systems theory, and more specifically with Age NI’s ethos of pursuing mainstreamed rights-based agendas that are guided by the voices of older people. Finally, Chapter 11 synthesises many of the arguments presented in the report, focusing on how they fit with some of the 9 Policy Principles endorsed by Age NI.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherUlster University
    Number of pages74
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 16 Apr 2014


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