Care Assistants Can Shape Health Reform – Poots

Health Minister Edwin Poots has said health care assistants have a significant role to play in the reform of Health and Social Care.

Mr Poots was delivering the key note address at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) NI Health Care Assistants annual conference in Belfast.

“As health care assistants, you understand that our services are under increasing pressure,” he said.

“Our population is getting older. We face an increase in the number of people living with long term conditions and the number coping with the effects of obesity and excess alcohol consumption.

“People now survive illnesses that would have been fatal in the past. We have perfected medical and surgical techniques to diagnose and treat cancers that we would not have thought possible 20 years ago. And our patients are expecting more from us and from our services.

“This means that we need to think differently about how we design and deliver our services to secure the best outcomes with the limited resources. Our services are going to get busier and we must get smarter. We cannot sustain things as they are now.”

Mr Poots said the proposals set out in the consultation document on reform, Transforming Your Care, From Vision to Action, centred around the ideas that care and treatment should move closer to people’s homes.

“We need to be assessing and treating patients as they start to become ill, not waiting until they have to be taken to our Emergency Departments in an ambulance,” he remarked.

“We need nurses and healthcare assistants out in the community, and in our care homes, who can work with patients and families and carers to recognise deterioration and call for the appropriate help from specialist nurses who can see and treat where the patient is.”

Concluding, the Minister added: “As healthcare assistants, you are an incredibly important part of the health care system. You provide support to patients and clients in hospitals, in nursing and residential homes and in their own homes. You are closest to the action, you see and hear at first hand the difficulties that patients and carers face and you are widely recognised for your caring and compassion.”