Integrated care for our ageing population

Healthcare in Ireland, and across the developed world is facing a crisis.

People are living longer, as a result of improvements in lifestyle, early detection of disease, and better medical outcomes. While this is definitely something to celebrate, it is placing unprecedented demand on our health and social care services arising from the increased complexity of treating a growing and ageing population.

In Ireland, it’s expected that by 2031 there’ll be more than one million people aged 65 or over, placing a greater demand on a health service already struggling to cope. People aged over 65 generally occupy 50% of acute-hospital, inpatient bed days.

Aware of these long-term shifts in population health demographics, in January 2016 the HSE established a programme to look at a better way of caring for our growing and ageing population: the Integrated Care Programme for Older Persons (ICP OP), tying in to a central goal for Sláintecare in developing Ireland’s future health service.

Integrated Care Programme for Older People | HSE from M.CO on Vimeo.

Since early 2016, we have been working closely with the ICP OP team to support them in the design and implementation of a system to provide person-centred, co-ordinated care for older persons, across health and social care services.

ICP OP aims to shift the balance of care away from acute hospitals to a community based, person-centric, integrated-care model, and to improve the experience, outcomes, and quality of care for older patients with complex needs.

Starting initially with six pilot sites around the country in 2016, there are now 13 sites, all staffed by multidisciplinary Integrated Care Teams made up of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, pharmacists, speech and language therapists, geriatricians, and case managers, who respond quickly to the urgent care requirements of people with complex needs, to keep them well at home and minimise hospital admissions.

Underpinned by a vision that seeks to support older persons to live in their own community, ICP OP enables the provision of timely access to health and social care so that older people can get the right level of care, in an appropriate location, and ideally at primary care level, and we are proud to be part of turning this powerful vision into reality.

Hear from the team in this short film we created about the work of ICP OP, and find out more at