Northern Ireland needs to develop a long-term strategy to deal with older people, First Minister Peter Robinson has suggested.
In a keynote speech yesterday, he said that within 15 years, a fifth of people here will be over 65 and by 2056 there will only be two working age people for every one over 65.
The number of dementia sufferers will more than double, rising to 50,000 by the middle of the century, presenting major challenges to the Executive.
“In Northern Ireland approximately half of domiciliary care is provided by the statutory sector and half by the independent sector,” the DUP leader said.
“On the mainland, only 20% is still provided by the statutory sector — a ratio actually matched by one of our five trusts, the South Eastern. Opening up social care to proper tendering and allowing the most cost-effective provision is clearly essential.”
Speaking at a seminar in Belfast on Caring for an Ageing Population, Mr Robinson also said two-thirds of hospital beds in the province are occupied by those aged over 65.