Northern Ireland's new health and social care system will drive up the quality of care and improve outcomes for our older generation.

That was the key message from Health Minister Edwin Poots to European health leaders at a high-profile conference in Brussels. The Minister was invited to attend and speak about Integrated Care at the Active and Healthy Ageing Conference.

Mr Poots said: "Our system of integrated health and social care is very close to my heart. It is the foundation of my vision for a better quality service. For older people, it is vital that the health sector and social care work hand in glove to provide a seamless service."

The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Active and Health Ageing attracted delegates from across Europe and further afield. Other speakers at the one-day conference include Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumers, John Dalli.

Speaking alongside the Minister for Health and Consumer affairs of the Basque Government, and health leaders from Europe on the issue of integrated care, Mr Poots said Transforming Your Care, A Review of Health and Social Care (TYC), proposed a system that would allow more people to be cared for at home.

He said: "In Northern Ireland, appropriate and effective health care is a right for everyone from the day we are born. However, the reality is that the older we grow, the greater the prospect of illness becomes and the greater our reliance on the health and social care sector. The most ineffective way to treat people, both from a clinical and a cost point of view, is to keep people in hospital when they do not need to be there.

"Under Transforming Your Care, we put the person – not the institution – at the very heart of their care. We shift the emphasis from where someone is treated to how they are treated. This means, as we grow old, we can be confident that we can stay home close to our loved ones for as long as possible.

"Our model of integrated health and social care is designed with the individual at the centre with services built around them. The system will be set up to join together the full range of health and social care services, including GPs, community health and social care providers, hospital specialists and representatives from the independent and voluntary sector."

Mr Poots cited the use of technology as an area where Northern Ireland is committed to leading the way. He said: "We have recently introduced Remote Telemonitoring which, when it has been rolled out in full, will allow 20,000 people to be monitored from home removing the need for unnecessary visits to health centres or hospitals. This increased use of technology is not only an aspiration but is embedded in our Programme for Government targets. We recognise that this type of innovation has clinical and business benefits."