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Health tool to improve elderly care

A tool for gauging health needs will make it easier for older people in Northern Ireland to access community care, the province's health minister has said.

The process, the first of its kind in the UK, will focus on people's abilities and strengths rather than their disabilities, Michael McGimpsey added.

The Northern Ireland Single Assessment Tool (NISAT) was designed to standardise and streamline the care planning process with the aim of simplifying involvement for the elderly.

Mr McGimpsey said: "NISAT will give older people a real opportunity to have their voices heard and to be at the very heart of the assessment process.

"It will also reduce the stress experienced by many older people who are frustrated when faced by a stream of well-meaning professionals all wanting to ask them the same questions."

The NISAT, commissioned from the University of Ulster by the Department of Health, will be rolled out across health and social care trusts from June 2010.

The minister added: "It is the first time that older people across the country will be assessed using the same tool so that we can ensure that, whether they live in rural Fermanagh, urban Belfast or on the North Coast of Antrim, they can expect to be assessed in exactly the same way."

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