Members of the newly formed Commission on Care for Older People at its first meeting last week.

New commission on older people has first meeting

A Cork doctor has taken part in the inaugural meeting of a new commission focusing on the welfare of Ireland’s older population.

Dr Emer Ahern is a consultant trauma and orthogeriatrician at CUH and is the HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Older Persons. She is also currently the president of the Irish Gerontological Society.

She joins a team of health experts to form the Commission on Care for Older People which met for the first time last week.

The commission was appointed by the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, and the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD.

It will focus on how best Ireland’s health and social care services can meet the needs the older population.

It will also look at how all government departments can best support positive ageing across the life course.

Headed by Prof. Alan Barrett, CEO of the Economic and Social Research Institute, the commission brings together health experts with backgrounds in the areas of geriatrics, gerontology, health economics, health policy and management, primary care, health ethics, health technologies, ageing and disability, and lived experience.

Addressing the commission at its first meeting, Minister Butler said the breadth of the expertise and experience of its members will ensure its deliberations and recommendations are informed by emerging good practice and lessons learned nationally and internationally.

“Ireland was the first country to be formally recognised by the World Health Organization as ‘age friendly’ in 2019,” said Minister Butler.

“We have one of the highest life expectancies in the EU, notwithstanding an ageing population. I welcome that the Commission will look at the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population as part of the ongoing strategic development of health and social care services,” she added.

The work of the Commission will be advanced through three modules of work.

The first two modules will last six months each, while the third will last one year.

The modules will run consecutively.

Funding of €1.2 million was secured in Budget 2024 to support the work of the commission.

Ms Butler continued: “By appointing representatives of the community and voluntary sectors, and importantly of older people themselves, I am hopeful the commission’s work will be better informed by the lived experience of older people across the country.

“I have every confidence that the work of the commission will have a hugely positive and lasting impact on ensuring that Ireland remains one of the best countries in which to age well,” she concluded.