Care warning on Ulster OAPs

WOMEN in Northern Ireland are 40 per cent more likely to be admitted to a care home than men because their partners are unable to care for them, a study has found.

The investigation carried out by Queen’s University Belfast found that women were often married to older partners who cannot provide care for them due to their age-related frailty.

Data used in the study revealed that women have partners who are on average five years older.

Mark McCann, from Queen’s Institute of Childcare Research and author of the study, said the findings could have important implications for future healthcare planning in the Province.

“The higher admission risk for women in comparison to men appears to be due primarily to the differences in the age and frailty of their partners,” he said.

“This research has gone some way to debunking the myth that older men do not want to care for their partners.

“The findings clearly show that the main reason more women are admitted to care homes is that their partners are unable to provide sufficient support.

“Age differences between partners are evident in most societies so it is important that issues raised in this paper are considered in future health planning.”

He added: “The projected narrowing of the gap in life expectancy between men and women may mean that there are more men around to provide such support in future years.”

The study, which was conducted over a six-year period, revealed that the prevalence of ill health increased with age in both sexes but at all ages women tended to have better health than males.

Last month, a report revealed the failings of some nursing homes across Northern Ireland.

It was claimed that elderly people were left to wait too long for toilet visits, some residents are being heavily sedated without being properly assessed for need, while others have complained about their privacy and personal care.

The alarming findings contained in the document from the NI Human Rights Commission also reveal that staff at some nursing homes do not have enough time to speak to the residents, while another resident reported a gap of more than 15 hours between meals, as well as 15 reports of residents taken to hospital for dehydration.

The commission said the current regulations surrounding nursing homes failed to integrate human rights standards.

According to the Human Rights Commission, by 2047 there will be twice as many people aged 65 and over than there are today.