ALONE welcomes progress on ageing at home and right to homecare

11th April 2017 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has welcomed a new review on the regulation and financing of homecare but would like further information on means testing older people for this service. The Health Research Board’s review of the regulation and financing of homecare in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Scotland was published today by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee TD.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “We welcome this research as we believe that there needs to be consistency in homecare services across the country with real and transparent regulations and standards. It is necessary that homecare staff are paid and supported appropriately for effective supports at home to work. Further investment in technology is also required to develop new ways in assisting older people to remain in their own homes.”

He continued, “While we recognise that there may be a case for some form of means testing, we strongly advise that any means testing is mindful of the existing stresses on older people’s finances and that the testing framework does not disadvantage older people further. Currently all HSE home care packages are provided free, without a means test, after an older person’s needs are assessed. This report shows that older people in Germany and the Netherlands are paying compulsory long-term care insurance and are also liable for means-adjusted co-payments, while in Scotland the threshold for access to professional home care has been raised and only people with the highest level of needs are cared for.”

According to The Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative’s 2016 report 48% of older people reported that they experience some or extreme difficulty in maintaining their home. Older people need both physical and social supports to age at home as well as care supports. Through its Support Coordination, Befriending and Housing with Support services, ALONE provides vital supports to older people to assist them in remaining at home. They also help older people to navigate the system and access the services that they require. Often older people do not know what services and entitlements are there for them.

Sean Moynihan continued, “A robust homecare scheme should interact with pre-existing policies around health and wellbeing, the dementia strategy, the carers’ strategy, the national positive ageing strategy, the ratification of the CRPD and the national neuro-rehabilitation strategy. As the healthcare sector focuses on maintaining and building health and resilience, homecare can provide rehabilitation and avert the requirement for higher levels of support.”

Moynihan concluded, “A coordinated approach is required from all government department and agencies in enabling older people to age at home. Home care supports need to be factored into a holistic approach to support older people to age at home and to reduce the amount of older people being moved into nursing homes unnecessarily. We commend the Minister on establishing a dedicated unit within the Department of Health to progress this work as a matter of urgency and we look forward to working with her during the consultation process. This report is an important step in developing a new statutory homecare scheme in Ireland.”

For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in their community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 or visit www.alone.ie