'Age of Change' Conference

'Age of Change' Conference

Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, in partnership with the Later Years Group of the Western Investing for Health Partnership and the Public Health Agency (PHA), hosted 'The Age of Change' Conference in the City Hotel, Derry~Londonderry as part of the City of Culture programme of activities.

The conference’s main theme was to promote partnership and innovation in supporting older people in health improvement.  It provided an opportunity for those who provide services to older people, as well as older people themselves, to come together to discuss the development of services and strategies and how these can be designed to meet the needs of older people in the city .

Mary Black, Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, said: “We live in a society which has witnessed great change in terms of political relationships, technology, standards of living and expectations, and with increasing aging population, we need to look to innovation to come to terms with the growing needs of older people.”

 The conference considered recent strategic developments in the Western Trust area, within the health service and in society in general, demonstrating how service providers must be innovative to respond to the needs of the increasing older population. 

John McGarvey, Chairperson of the Later Years Sub Group added: "The conference was conceived to enable older people's service providers and service planners to fully take account of their roles in addressing older people's needs in our increasingly ageing society. The conference included a range of best practice projects demonstrating innovations in respect of improving the lives of older people and demonstrating the potential future developments."

 The keynote address was given by the Older People's Commissioner Claire Keatinge and presentations were also made by Joanne McDowell (CEO Big Lottery Fund NI), Sue Ramsey MLA (Chair of the Assembly Committee for Health, Social Service and Public Safety),  writer and broadcaster Anita Robinson and the PHA’s  Mary Black.

Claire Keatinge commented: “More of us are living longer and healthier lives and this is very good news indeed. We should celebrate the enormous, positive social and financial contribution that today’s older people make to our society.

 “And we must place real value and importance on the rights of older people to be recognised as individuals who have rights, make choices, and have their own dreams, opinions, preferences and ideas.

 “The Age of Change conference is a very welcome focus on what matters most to older people in health and social care.”

 Some 150 delegates from the health, community and other sectors were present at the conference which was chaired by Brendan Bonner of the PHA.