Social welfare, housing and health policy and the determinants of quality of life for older people in the Republic of Ireland
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Hodgins, M and McKenna, V. (2010) 'Social welfare, housing and health policy and the determinants of quality of life for older people in the Republic of Ireland'. Quality in Ageing, 11 (2):19-28.
Improving quality of life (QoL) for older people calls for public policy initiatives which have a positive impact on the determinants of quality of life. This paper presents a review of current social welfare, housing and health policy in the Republic of Ireland relevant to older people as policy areas that are of particular relevance to the determinants of QoL identified in the literature. The state pension, on which older people are heavily reliant, constitutes the main focus of social welfare cash payments. However, a general practice of marginal increments which fail to take adequate account of inflation and costs of living can leave older people living on the margins of society. In relation to housing policy there is a need for improved policy implementation regarding housing maintenance and facilitating home comfort in the older people population. Overall, greater consideration for the housing needs of older people in general and social housing needs in particular are required. A preference for community over institutional care persists throughout Republic of Ireland health policy documents since 1988 although gaps between policy aspiration and implementation measures continue to be highlighted. Future policy needs to focus on the creation of enabling environments for social participation and in the optimising of opportunities for physical, social and mental well-being. The review underscored the absence of a rights based approach in policy-making to date and the need for substantial capacity building to be undertaken among older people themselves.