How the housing crisis and lack of suitable housing affects older people

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The housing crisis in Ireland is no secret and it is made more difficult for older people due to the lack of suitable, affordable housing for this population.

Suitable housing for older people may be defined as having suitable ramps and drop kerbs, benches with armrests, and appropriately located bus stops. Also of high importance is easy access to leisure and cultural events to socialise with others. In addition, it is vital that the person has amenities and facilities available within 300 metres.

One issue is that there are not enough suitable, affordable social houses being built in the country that reflect the changing demographic. In 2014, 50% of the calls to front office at ALONE were related to housing and in 2015 there was a 290% increasing in the housing applications received by ALONE.

In addition to the lack of housing being built is the increase in the cost of rent, which rose 3.9% between April and June of 2016. Current rents are exceeding their 2008 peak. Not only are they more expensive, but there were 20% fewer homes available to rent in August 2016 than in August 2015.

At ALONE, we want to help older people to age at home.

We believe older people should be able to age in the place of their choosing, be that downsizing to a smaller unit or adapting their current home. Either way, the need for suitable housing within our communities is vital.

 

ALONE ‘Loss of 90,000 bed days demonstrates need for an increase in home care budget ’

ALONE responds to latest HSE figures

 

Dublin, 16th August 2017

 

ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is calling on the government to increase funding for homecare following the report that 90,000 bed days have been lost in the hospital system so far this year because of delayed discharges.  This is according to HSE figures provided to Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher.

ALONE believes that investing in home care packages is a major part of solving the increase in delayed discharges, as older people are being forced to remain in acute hospital beds due to lack of supports to go home.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “We agree with Billy Kelleher’s comments today that older patients are not being supported and given access to appropriate step down care. Studies show that 50% of older people waiting for, or sent to, nursing homes from hospital wished to remain at home and possibly could have done so, demonstrating the absolute need for there to be an increase in the home care budget to provide options for the older population across the country.”

A home care package would only cost around €400 a week while keeping an older person in hospital, taking up an acute bed, can cost up to €7,000 a week. ALONE have conducted a cost comparison on the various options for caring for older people

 

  • The cost of an acute hospital bed is between €800 and €900 per day
  • The cost of a nursing home bed per day is between €100 and €200
  • The cost of home help 3 times a day is between €50 and €70
  • The cost of ALONE housing with supports is €34 a day

Moynihan continued, “This comparison demonstrates that there is an urgent need to properly resource and plan for the housing and care options for our older people.  Aside from the fact that home care is just a fraction of the cost of hospital care, older people deserve the support they need and want when being discharged from hospital.”

Moynihan concluded, “Nursing Homes play a key role in the care of the very old with high support needs. However, with Ireland’s older population set to reach 1.4 million over the next 30 years, the provision of quality home care packages for older people is a necessity.”

The latest census numbers from 2016 show that females over the age of 65 in Ireland is up 16.7 % from 2011 while that of the male population is up 20%. Those over 65 are almost three times more likely than average to be in an acute hospital bed and will spend an average of 8.7 days in hospitals, while those over 70 years old will spend an average of 10.87 days.

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

ENDS

 

About ALONE

2017 marks 40 years since ALONE was founded. Since then the charity has supported thousands of older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

 

For more information contact:

Maree Rigney, Limelight Communications, maree.rigney@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 086 3587153

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 085 233 6033

ALONE ‘Revisions to Fair Deal Scheme offers no solutions for older people’

Dublin, 14th August 2017  ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has expressed concern over the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government’s announcement today that the government are exploring changes to the “Fair Deal” Nursing Home Support Scheme that would encourage and facilitate the use of vacant properties of those in nursing home care.

 

Minister Murphy is in consultations with the HSE and Department of Finance to facilitate the use of these vacant properties in a new ‘Vacant Homes Strategy’ which will be launched next month.

 

CEO of ALONE, Sean Moynihan said, “As the government’s policy is to support older people to age at home, we are concerned that this announcement by Minister Murphy sends conflicting messages and places older people in a difficult position as it may lead the public believe older people are blocking the housing market.  The number of houses left vacant by those in nursing home care is small but the principle of protecting older is a large issue.”

 

“The government’s focus should be on supply and meeting the demand for housing in line with the demographic change. The government and councils are the only ones who can deliver on the scales needed. Previous schemes have not worked but they do take up valuable resources and time.”

 

He continued, “This proposal contains no solutions for older people and is ignoring the fact that there is actually a shortage of suitable housing for older people. Each person and family has a unique situation and it’s not always as easy as simply selling or renting the house. We need to be building housing and addressing the needs of older people, offering them smaller units in the community and giving them the choice to “ downsize” if they chose.”

 

ALONE believes that the government needs to focus their energy on further housing choices for older people in the community. Currently, 48% of people over 50 have housing condition problems[1]and the charity has expressed concern at the insufficient and inconsistent housing adaptation grants.

 

Moynihan continued, “We in ALONE have been calling on the government to look at Housing with Support models for older people so that they can age in the community. The demand for this model is 4,200 by 2020[2]. Older people want to age at home. If they wanted to vacate their properties and sell or rent they would, but there are complicated stories behind each person. We urge the government to prioritise the development of social housing and ensure older people aren’t forgotten.”

 

He concluded, “Waiting list for social housing for older people will double from 6,954 to 12,672 by 2022, which equates to over 33% of the forecasted 47,000 social housing units to be built within Rebuilding Ireland’s lifetime. If we build more housing for older people who are on the social list, or they can buy suitable, affordable housing, we will ease some of the pressure on the housing market.”

 

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

[1] HSE  Department of Health national indicators report 2016 page 89

[2] ALONE Research

Hospital Wait Times: What it means for the aging population

wait times, hospital wait times,

An Irish Independent article today released the latest HSE figures finding that wait times in A&E for nearly 6,000 people over 75 years of age is more than 24 hours.

During the first six months of 2017, there were record numbers of overcrowding in hospitals across the country. With nearly 52,000 people on trolleys in both the wards and A&E during that time, there is a clear disconnect between those in need and the resources available.

This lack of resources leads to hospital overcrowding, which will become an increasingly worrisome issue as the population continues to age. The latest census numbers from 2016 show that females over the age of 65 in Ireland is up 16.7 % from 2011 while that of the male population is up 20%. Those over 65 are almost three times more likely than average to be in an acute hospital bed and will spend an average of 8.7 days in hospitals, while those over 70 years old will spend an average of 10.87 days.

In addition to the increase in demand and continued overcrowding, older people are more likely to be affected by delayed discharge, which occurs when a patient is medically ready to leave the hospital, but due to the lack of necessary care, support or accommodation, they are unable to do so. In fact, 82% of all delayed discharges of older people are linked to lack of access to facilities and community support.

Studies show that 50% of older people waiting for, or sent to, nursing homes from hospital wished to remain at home and possibly could have done so, demonstrating the absolute need for there to be an increase in the Home Care budget to provide options for the older population across the country.

With increased funding towards the Fair Deal and Nursing Home Support Scheme, transitional care beds and home care, the number of people on trolleys has decreased by 24% compared to June 2015, further demonstrating the need for an increase in budget for home care options.

ALONE expands services in North City & County Dublin

Since January 2017, ALONE has partnered with the HSE to develop our shared vision to support people to age in their own communities for as long as possible. This pilot partnership scheme includes expanded ALONE services across North Dublin City and County. The summary outlined below describes a fraction of the work we’ve managed to achieve in the last 5 months.

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If you, or someone you know, would like to avail of ALONE services contact us on 01 6791032 or hello@alone.ie.

Corporate Volunteering: How your company can help

Lisney Ireland volunteering at Willie Bermingham Place in July 2017
Lisney Ireland volunteering at Willie Bermingham Place in July 2017

There are many ways to help ALONE. Giving a donation or volunteering to be a befriender  are all excellent ways to help. If you want a fun day out with your work crew, you could also consider a Corporate Volunteer Day with ALONE where you can work as a team to improve the homes – and the lives – of ALONE tenants.

ALONE Housing with Support is for people who are over 60 years of age. In the past 12 months, 87% of new ALONE tenants were homeless or at risk of homelessness before they came to us. During a Corporate Volunteer Day, you’ll be assisting to improve their homes and allow them to live independently for as long as possible.

We provide lifetime tenancies for all tenants so they never have to fear homelessness again. When a house needs maintenance or a little extra work, that’s where you can help.

We have many tasks available that you and your team can work on including: gardening work, painting, re-decorating, and more.

A Deloitte Ireland corporate volunteer helping out in the garden.
A Deloitte Ireland corporate volunteer helping out in the garden.

Equipment and materials for these activities can be expensive. We normally ask companies to fund a budget of €1,000 to cover everything needed during your volunteer day. However, if you do not have that budget available, please still get in touch so we can work together to find a suitable project with a lower budget.

Donating your time to volunteer with ALONE means you’ll get to learn a bit more about what we do and help create a true home for an older person in need.

If you have more questions or if your company is interested in organising a volunteer day with us, please send an e-mail to Mireya at fundrasing@alone.ie or call us on 01 679 1032.

ALONE welcomes change in fuel allowance method of payment

Dublin, 21st July 2017  ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home welcomes the announcement from Minister for Employment and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD, that changes will be made to the method of payment of the winter fuel allowance.

 

This new move will grant recipients two lump sums of €292.50 during the year, replacing the weekly payment system. ALONE welcome this development, as we continue to see older people in Ireland face a great struggle to adequately heat their homes.

 

A 2013 study showed that 10% of people in Ireland struggled to heat their homes. The same study highlighted that over the previous twelve months, the number of people older than 65 who were unable to keep their homes warm, almost doubled from 5.0% to 9.8%.

 

CEO of ALONE, Sean Moynihan has said: “ALONE is pleased to hear this announcement from Minister Doherty and hope it can make a real difference in the lives of older people around the country. It is a harsh reality that anyone in Ireland might have to choose between paying to heat their home or pay for other essentials such as food, transport and clothing.”

 

Moynihan continued, “We believe this move to two lump sums will greatly assist older people in buying fuel and heating their home, something which had become an urgent issue for so many. We would also call on the Department to annually review the full Fuel Allowance payment to ensure that it is in line with fuel price increases.”

 

The Irish Institute of Public Health has found that pensioners are one of the highest risk groups for fuel poverty, something ALONE encounters frequently in its work.

 

ENDS

 

About ALONE

 

2017 marks 40 years since ALONE was founded. Since then the charity has supported thousands of older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to older people nationwide. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

 

For further information, please contact

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications 01 668 0600 or 085 233 6033

Maree Rigney, Limelight Communications 01 668 0600

How ALONE is putting older people and technology in touch

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Using the BWell App

Advancements in technology, charities and older people aren’t always things you think of in the same sentence, but ALONE is changing that.

Since January 2017, ALONE has worked in partnership with NetwellCASALA on a technology project that will enhance the lives of older people.

Through this partnership we have developed a technology platform that allows an older person to be more proactive in their health and well-being. The platform consists of a BSafe home sensor package, a BWell app, a BFriend app,  and ALONE’s Management Information System (MIS). The platform can be customised depending on the person’s desires and needs. The aim is to enable a community-based approach to ageing at home.

Here’s what the platform consists of:

The BSafe package is a set of individualised sensor kits for the home and wearable devices. They focus on mobility, physical activity and sleep. The data is then connected to the BWell app, so the older person can view it, and monitored through the MIS by the

  • That means if someone has a fall in the house, telecare would be alerted. Or if the person isn’t leaving the house as much as usual, we would be prompted to check in with them.

The BWell app focuses on all areas of social interaction in the older person’s life as well as their mental, emotional, and physical health.

  • The power is put into the hands of the older person to record their activities, review their data, manage their appointments and medications, and communicate with their support networks.

BFriend is an app available to ALONE staff and volunteers who work directly with older people. This app allows both groups to log their visit details, ensure quality of service with a history log, and keeps volunteers and staff safe through location sharing during visits.

  • It also allows staff and volunteers to report any concerns they may have about the older person, in real time.

ALONE’s MIS is our main data hub, which has been customised to meet the organisations needs and processes using the highest level of data security. It connects all of the apps to give us a comprehensive overview of an older person’s needs in real time.

  • Our MIS is high quality and low cost, and available for use by befriending organisations, community groups, and housing providers.
  • Five external organisations are currently piloting our MIS with plans to expand that to 75 organisations within 3 years.

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This brilliant advancement in technology and service at ALONE is the result of a THINKTECH grant received through Social Innovation Fund Ireland in association with the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government and Google.org.

Check out our video to learn more.

Volunteering with ALONE: The nitty-gritty details to getting involved

volunteering in Ireland, ALONE info session

We’ve all been there—wanting to volunteer but not really sure how. Where to begin and where to concentrate your efforts when there are so many places that could use volunteers in Ireland.

If you’re looking to provide companionship to an older person in your area, joining the Befriending service with ALONE is the place to start. We hold an Investing in Volunteers award and are the only place in Ireland to hold a Quality in Befriending award.

So, what’s involved when you volunteer with ALONE?

First, take a look at our website—see if you like what you see and if it’s something you’d be interesting in doing.

If it is, fill out a form to express your interest. You’ll be contacted and informed of our next volunteer information and recruitment session. This is a chance for you to get to know us and for us to have a short, one-to-one interview with you to gauge your interests and personality. Right now we’re looking at having the next information session in the autumn, so now is a great time to sign up

After that, successful applicants will be contacted to come in and do two hours of training where we go through details of how volunteering with us works.

We’ll then run a Garda vetting and check your provided references (of which we’ll need two).

All going well, we will then pair you up with an older person. Keep in mind that depending on the location you’re able to visit as well as the need in the community, the matching process may take a couple of months.

We ask that you commit to visiting the older person at least once a week for one year.

The two presenters were very good and opened up a discussion in a natural way. I feel ready to move onto the next stage and meet my befriended.

You’re truly part of the team when you decide to volunteer with ALONE—you have direct access to us and we provide support every step of the way. We’ll accompany you to your first visit and follow-up regularly to make sure you and the person you’ve been paired with are happy.

Daniel Egan is a brand new volunteer with ALONE who just joined the team. “The information session and training were both great, interactive sessions. It was nice to see a good balance of ages and sexes,” he says. “The two presenters were very good and opened up a discussion in a natural way. I feel ready to move onto the next stage and meet my befriended.”

The population of people over 65 in Ireland is 13.2%, representing 642,000 people. One in ten older people suffer with chronic loneliness, which can be as damaging to health as obesity and smoking.

ALONE is here to help the older population live their lives the way they want—you can be a part of changing an older person’s life and helping them age at home.

 

—ENDS

ALONE welcomes homecare consultation but stresses need for comprehensive services

6th July 2017 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home welcomes the introduction of a public consultation process on a new statutory homecare scheme announced by Minister for Older People, Jim Daly, today. ALONE also stress that a more rounded home support system should be put in place for older people and carers.

CEO of ALONE, Sean Moynihan has said: “We believe in the need to redress homecare but there is also a requirement to treat all parts of an older person’s life. Without a wrap-around of services, any new homecare scheme would fail.”

Moynihan continued, “ALONE is focused on the development of well-rounded supports for older people in Ireland. As the ageing population increases, we can expect further demands on supports. It is estimated that approximately 20% of those over 65 already receive a form of support service from the State. While we welcome this move by Minister Daly to establish a new affordable and sustainable homecare scheme, we urge that a comprehensive approach be taken. ALONE also calls on the Minister to disclose an outlined timeline for the consultation process and how he intends the process to operate.”

ALONE is keen to participate in the development of this new statutory homecare scheme and work with all stakeholders to make any new scheme a success and meet the needs of older people.

ALONE believes that only with this agenda, the participation of the wider community, and an increase in annual funding, can a significant homecare scheme be sustainable.

ENDS

 

About ALONE

2017 marks 40 years since ALONE was founded. Since then the charity has supported thousands of older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.  ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to older people nationwide. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

For more information contact:

Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, kathryn.byrne@limelight.ie, 01 668 0600, 0852336033