A charter aimed at protecting the rights and dignity of the elderly was launched today by Age Concern Northern Ireland.
The Charter of Rights to Care for Older People was unveiled at its 30th Annual General Meeting.
The document reminds those with responsibility for delivering care for the elderly of the need to respect and acknowledge the rights of older people to maintain their independence, to make choices and to participate as fully as possible in decisions about their lives.
A recent report presented to the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights by the Northern Ireland Law Centre and a case brought to the House of Lords demonstrate that older people's rights to care are often at risk and can be ignored.
Speaking at the launch, Dame Joan Harbison, chair of Age Concern Northern Ireland, said: "It is unfortunate that the Human Rights Act does not offer protection for older people within private care homes but Age Concern Northern Ireland believes respect for the rights of older people should be at the heart of all care provided for them.
"Quality services should not be provided simply on the basis of need but because older people are entitled to the highest quality of life they can have and to be treated with dignity and respect.
"We in Age Concern Northern Ireland hope that this charter will be displayed in every residential care facility and day care centre as a strong statement that each organisation is committed to providing the best quality care it can for older people".
The launch was attended by government ministers including Ian Paisley Jnr and Gerry Kelly.
Both Ministers were supportive of the charter and the need to protect the interests of older people, particularly when they are in need of care.