Northern Ireland’s chief social worker says the public must start thinking about how they can contribute to the cost of their care in the future - to ease pressure on the system.
He was speaking on the 70th anniversary of the NHS.
Northern Ireland, like the rest of the UK, has an ageing and growing population with an estimated one in four people predicted to be 64 or older in 20 years’ time.
Chief Social Worker Sean Holland warns the healthcare system is slowly falling apart and that the system is already under tremendous pressure.
“It’s what I would describe as an engine that’s running very hot,” he told BBC News NI.
“It’s running very fast, and is still functioning, but if it gets any hotter, eventually, it gets overwhelmed and seizes up.”
Some 23,000 people in Northern Ireland receive domiciliary care, amounting to 250,000 hours of carers’ work a week, nearly 70% of which is provided by the private sector.
It is estimated that 15% more care packages will be needed by 2020 to meet demand across Northern Ireland.
The region’s 41,000-strong social care workforce includes 6,200 are social workers, 500 social work students and 34,000 social care registrants of whom 12,800 are domiciliary care workers.