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Only one in five of us has any plans for care in old age

By Lisa Smyth

Published 22/11/2011

More than four out of five people in Northern Ireland have made no provision for their care in the future, a survey has found.

The 2010 Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey also revealed that just 20% of people believe the current system of funding social care is fair.

The results of the research come as a major new report released yesterday warned Northern Ireland’s social care system will be stretched to breaking point in future with a rising elderly population and spiralling costs.

The Social Care in Northern Ireland report has prompted fears the extra pressure will prove too much for an already stretched system — leaving the elderly and vulnerable facing massive bills for care in the future or very difficult choices.

Today’s NILT survey has revealed elderly people are worried about the level of care they will receive if they have to move into a care home. One third of over 65s who responded said their greatest fear is having to leave their own home.

Almost 80% of respondents supported the idea that care should be free at the point of delivery but must be funded by a special tax or insurance. However, a significant proportion also expressed support for care to be delivered on a means-tested basis.

More than 1,200 adults took part in the survey which explored public perception of the social care system and people’s views on future policy.

Dr Ann Marie Gray, one of the report’s authors, said: “While growing life expectancy means that there will be greater reliance on social care services in future, the system is under pressure now.

“The policy response needs to take account of public opinion and needs to look to the long term.”

Developing Social Care Policy: the Public Voice is available online at

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