IGS 2019 Welcome Address by Minister Jim Daly

Welcome Address by Minister Daly
Irish Gerontological 67th Annual Conference
Conference Centre, Clayton Hotel Silver Springs
26th September 2019 @7:30 pm

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
•    I am delighted to see you all here at opening of the 67th Irish Gerontological Annual Conference and I am grateful to the Irish Gerontological Society for their kind invitation to address you all here tonight.
•    The Society I’ve learned is one of the oldest of its kind in the world, strives to empower people, through knowledge, research and education and I am glad to see medical professionals from all areas here to share and present latest knowledge and expertise
•    I also would like to thank University College Cork, South/Southwest Hospital Group, and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, who worked together with the Society in organising this Congress. It is great to see such collaboration on this important topic.
•    The overall theme of this year’s conference in its 67th year is ‘Innovation, Advances and Excellence in Ageing’. The theme is timely.•    By 2050, the global population of older people is projected to more than double its size.
•    Analysis for the period 2016 – 2031 predict a 59% growth in 65+ population 95% growth in 85+ population.
•    As our population is aging, with it grows the numbers living with chronic conditions.
•    Most people over 65 years have two or more chronic conditions 
•    Older age groups are also the highest users of our health care services. For example, approximately 40% of people who have a day case procedure are over the age of 65. Within older person services, those aged 85 and over represented 40-50% of those receiving care.
•    Prevalence of frailty also rises with age, particularly for those over 75 years of age. This represents a significant policy challenge given their combined impact of multiple co-morbidities and frailty and will bring many challenges ahead.
•    Currently approximately 1 million people in Ireland suffer from chronic diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Diabetes, Asthma and Cardiovascular disease and this is increasing by 4% each year
•    As we know, chronic disease cannot be prevented through vaccination and cannot be cured through medication.
•    The current and projected impact of chronic diseases represents a major challenge not just for the health services, but also for Irish society and the Irish economy
•    So, the question is – what can be done do to improve the quality of life and access to services for older people?
•    The recent re- design of the Clinical Programmes in the HSE places older people firmly at the centre of the care agenda.
•    It reflects the significant strides made in progressing an innovative approach to service design within both through the National Clinical Programme for Older People and the Integrated Care Programme for People.  
•    This new entity and alignment of the older persons programmes will enable the programmes to continue their work designing clinical models and pathways of care to treat patients at the lowest level of complexity that is safe, timely, efficient and as close to home as possible. 
•    Self-care is the new buzzword and for a good reason- patients should be active partners in their healthcare, and, with the support of their doctors, we must help them in developing the knowledge, skills and confidence to make informed decisions about their condition
•    This can hugely improve their quality of life and reduce the impact on health and the likelihood of complications, hospitalisations and even deaths.
•    Self-management support is an important aspect of this Integrated Care Programme and is key to delivering person-centred care through group-based patient education, regular clinical reviews and peer support groups just to mention a few.
•    In order to improve population health, prevention is crucial- approximately two thirds of the predicted disease burden is caused by risk factors that can – and must - be prevented and risk factors like tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, alcohol misuse and obesity must be reduced.
•    A lot has already been achieved- Healthy Ireland initiative was launched by the Irish Government in 2013 with an aim to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society.
•    Ireland has also been an enthusiastic supporter of the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity and HEPA (Health Enhancing Physical Activity) Europe, through which leadership and guidance is provided for member states to increase participation in physical activity and thereby improve health and wellbeing globally.
•    Built on an all-party political consensus Sláintecare is Ireland’s ten-year programme to transform our health and social care services that will underpin our approach to tackling the burden of chronic disease. 
•    Sláintecare will continue to enable the delivery of key programmes to support this important step-change through implementation of the Integrated care programme for Older persons and Chronic Disease.  
•    It will design new models of care that will take a system-wide focus and support individuals to access and navigate the system 
•    These models of care will be designed around all cohorts in the population, particularly frail older people, people with complex needs, those with long-term chronic condition
•    The GP contract and the development of the Community Healthcare Network Model will also play a key role to leverage capacity and health and social care delivery within the older persons own community.
•    This will improve people’s quality of life, through the availability of high-quality treatment close to their homes, and prevention of unnecessary hospitalisation. 
•    I am very happy to learn that there is significant, pioneering research and academic work being led by Irish researchers on topics including health in older people, social policy and economics.  
•    Some of this work is done in collaboration with colleagues from all over the world, including Hong Kong, USA, Italy and Australia among many others. 

•    There are many interesting topics to be discussed at the conference. One research topic that I would encourage all to attend is the work on ‘Early Identification of Frailty’,.
•    As this annual event has become the largest interdisciplinary gerontological and geriatric meeting on this island, it will no doubt be an interesting and informative resource for the broad range of disciplines involved in providing both immediate and follow-up care to people who have chronic conditions 
•    Technology plays a huge part in our everyday lives and age-related technologies will play in how we live at home and in our communities in the years ahead 
•    That is why it is great to see there is a special focus on this area at this year’s Conference
•    To conclude, I would like to re-iterate that every older person must have access to the right care and support. 
•    Given the changing landscape of ageing in Ireland over the next decade it is important that we have an age attuned, age friendly, and age accommodating society, and health and social care services
•    I wish you all a great time at this conference here tonight and in the next days.