ALONE engages in government consultation on new home care model

PRESS RELEASE

 13 charities collaborate on home care submission to Department of Health

Dublin, 24th April 2017  ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has aligned with 12 other charities and advocacy groups in response to a new review on the regulation and financing of homecare by the Health Research Board that was published by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee TD earlier this month.

ALONE and the other NGOs, which include Age Action, Alzheimer Society of Ireland and MS Ireland among others, have worked together on a submission paper that outlines the regulations and standards they believe should be incorporated into the new statutory home care scheme as proposed by Minister McEntee.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “A coordinated approach is required from all agencies and advocacy groups involved in enabling home care. We commend the Minister on establishing a dedicated unit within the Department of Health to progress this work as a matter of urgency.”

He continued, “We look forward to being part of the consultation process and the implementation of this new national home care model. It is vitally important that NGO’s, recipients of care, carers and social services are all engaged in the process. All four countries included in the Health Research Board’s recent report involved NGOs, private home care providers and family carers in significant decision making in the setting up and operation of their national home care model.”

The submission paper submitted to the Department of Health by the alliance outlines the key elements they believe should be incorporated into this proposed home care scheme. The group has requested that the scheme provides a robust set of processes that will assure quality of care for those who receive home care such as the assurance that home care staff are paid and supported appropriately and that a clear inspections and complaints policy is in place.

Sean Moynihan added, “A robust home care 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, home care can provide rehabilitation and avert the requirement for higher levels of support.”

He concluded, “As part of the consultation process we hope to explore types of assessments which could be used to understand how best to allocate services in a timely and equitable way as there does not appear to be clarity about how this currently happens. By placing the scheme on a statutory footing, it should provide people with care as needed, regardless of age, geography or economic circumstances.”

Other elements highlighted in the submission paper are the necessity for funding mechanisms that will ensure that a robust home care scheme can be delivered year-on-year, accessible to those who would most benefit from it.

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

Read the submission here.

Consultation process for the establishment of a Statutory Homecare Scheme

Discussion Document on the Consultation Process for the Establishment of a Statutory Homecare Scheme
19 April 2017

Introduction
Organisations from across the NGO sector welcome the Minister for Mental Health and Older People’s announcement of a consultation process on establishing a new statutory homecare scheme. The Minister told the Dáil that she wishes to run a consultation process that “will allow all those who have views on this topic to have their say, including older people themselves, their families and health care workers”. This discussion document has been prepared to assist with that process.
It is a stated objective of successive governments that people would, where possible, continue to age within their own homes and communities. As acknowledged by the Minister, this process is about ensuring that this objective could be supported with a statutory scheme, thereby keeping more people at home.
The NGOs that have contributed to this paper (listed at the end) wish to support the Minister and the Department in creating a robust consultation process that will provide a context for any policy or legislative work and will also encourage people who receive care, as well as those who deliver care, to have their voices heard.

The issues which should be addressed by submissions are as follows:

A Definition of Homecare

The consultation process must tackle the issue of what constitutes homecare, identifying what services are within the remit of the scheme. It needs to find agreement on what structures need to be in place to ensure that homecare can provide a range of services so that what is appropriate to the person is covered and, at the same time, is sustainable and can be delivered in the person’s home.

Current inconsistency of homecare delivery

Homecare, as it is delivered across the country, is not consistent. For example, different systems and eligibility criteria are in place to access home help services in different parts of the country, while homecare as a whole is not regulated. There is a need to define the parameters of what can be constituted homecare under any legal and regulatory frameworks and the consultation should include identifying the appropriate body or mechanism to regulate homecare in Ireland. A definition of homecare must capture the diverse range of needs that are being met by homecare workers.
For example, people with dementia may require social supports; for people with mobility issues, their needs may include support with everyday activities but not with what is defined as ‘activities of daily living’. There is also a need to clarify how homecare interacts with Personal Assistant Services, a service available to those receiving Disability Services but not Older Persons’ Services.

The place of technology in homecare
Technological supports in homecare also need consideration. Technology cannot replace careworkers. The potential for a strong complementary relationship, however, means that it must be considered both in terms of medical technology such as diagnostics and medical monitoring as well as assistive technology which can support people with various activities, particularly people who have mobility difficulties. These could include, for example, telecare and telehealth, environmental controls, voice prompts etc.

Core Principles Underpinning Homecare
The scheme, as proposed by the Minister, will put homecare on a statutory footing. Clarity is needed about the principles that underpin the delivery of the scheme. Potentially, the topics that could be discussed within these core principles are:

Person-centred care
As with all other care services, a person-centred approach should form the basis of homecare. This is about recognising the needs and preferences of individuals who make up the diverse population known as ‘people in receipt of homecare’. Consultation can tease out appropriate equivalent processes for encouraging the discovery of people’s needs and wants in a homecare setting, akin to what is promoted under Theme 1 of the HIQA National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland.
There is also a need to support the mechanisms around assisted decision-making / co-decision making under the 2015 legislation and for redress and advocacy mechanisms that are properly resourced for those times when care does not meet the recipient’s own wishes.

Regularising carework
In order for a homecare scheme to work effectively, it will need to tackle employment within the sector and value the workers who deliver care. The issues within this sector include: the lack of a homecare workers register, working hours, zero-hours contracts, lack of career development structures and labour inspections.
If someone is receiving care from family members, either on a regular or irregular basis, this should not exclude the recipient from homecare packages. The 2012 National Carers Strategy identifies Family Carers as key care partners. Both Family Carers and the providers of paid homecare need to invest time in building relationships with each other that are characterised by consultation, respect and ongoing communication.
There are also a number of issues faced by migrant workers in carework which also require consideration, such as discrimination, legal status and communication barriers.

Security of the person
For those receiving care at home, there is a need to promote the security of the person in receipt of care. By the very nature that someone is receiving care, they are restricted in some way which may mean that they have difficulty ensuring their right to security, leaving them open to violence, abuse or neglect. While the vetting of careworkers is vital, it is also about ensuring that an advocacy mechanism is available for anyone using homecare. Careworkers also need to be able to work safely.

Homecare across the life-course
The consultation process needs to consider how homecare is delivered across the life-course rather than there being material differences between homecare delivered under Disability Services and Older People’s Services.

Quality of Care, Inspection and Supervision
The consultation must consider how best to provide a robust set of processes that will assure quality of care for those who receive homecare. For example, homecare is not amenable to the same inspection processes which prevail in residential and day care settings. Inspection models used internationally need to be reviewed.

Assuring quality in careworkers
The consultation can explore how quality can be assured. Quality of care requires properly trained and certified careworkers who have received appropriate training to provide care in the home, rather than exclusively in acute or institutional settings. Workers also need to be supported and supervised to operate knowledgably in a person-centred context where they understand the recipients of care. Careworkers also need to have sufficient time to deliver agreed care in a context of trust and have the skills to be able to deliver different types of care, e.g. end of life care.

Inspection and complaints
The consultation can also helpfully explore the mechanisms whereby homecare can be inspected and a formal complaints procedure is put in place.

Integration with Public Policy and Social Supports
The consultation can usefully explore how a robust homecare scheme should interact with pre-existing policy around: health and wellbeing, the National Dementia Strategy, the National Carers’ Strategy, the National Positive Ageing Strategy, ratification of the CRPD and the National Neurorehabilitation Strategy. As the health sector reorients itself with a focus on maintaining and building health and resilience, homecare can provide reablement and rehabilitation. Responsive and flexible homecare can support with reducing admissions to both residential care and to acute care, with associated savings in expenditure.
The consultation can also consider how the scheme will interact with other schemes such as the NHSS, home adaptation grants and with various other services and supports such as acute services, primary care, Section 38 and 39 NGOs providing direct services, as well as age friendly initiatives in local authorities. It should also consider other consultations and strategies such, for example, the Personalised Budgets Taskforce.

Access and Availability
By placing the scheme on a statutory footing, it should provide people with care as needed, regardless of age, geography or economic circumstances.
The consultation process is well-placed to explore how access and availability currently works in practice. It can consider how homecare hours are currently allocated and what changes people would like to see. It would also provide an opportunity to explore types of assessments which could be used (both medical and social) to understand how best to allocate services in a timely and equitable way. There does not appear to be clarity about how this currently happens.
A discussion about how recipients are prioritised and the potential to provide low-level supports as a preventative or a reablement measure for those at risk of needing much higher levels of support would also provide useful information to a consultation. It is also helpful to discuss timeliness of care, particularly in the context of palliative care.
There should also be consideration about how people become aware of care options. Information must not simply be available; it is critical that is accessible and easily understood, and that people are facilitated to make choices in that regard.

Funding Mechanisms
The consultation process must explore funding mechanisms that will ensure that a robust homecare scheme can be delivered year-on-year, accessible to those who would most benefit from it. It may also prove useful to consider, in the context of defining homecare services and the principles underpinning it, to seek opinion on how it can best be funded and, where tendering mechanisms are in use, what criteria might be prioritised in order to fund better rather than merely cheaper services.

Creating a Wide and Inclusive Consultation Process
While best practice around consultation processes will be in place, such as a published terms of reference, a timescale and clarity about what will not be addressed, the consultation process needs, according to the Minister, to “allow all those who have views on this topic to have their say”.

In order to facilitate this, it is important to engage the following groups:

Recipients of care
This would be people of all ages who receive care at home, which would include those with physical or sensory disabilities, those with intellectual disabilities or mental health issues and people living with dementia.

Family Carers
This would include family, neighbours and friends who provide significant levels of care at home.

Careworkers
This would include paid careworkers including those who work in private companies or social enterprises as well as careworkers in public settings. It would also mean including those from migrant communities working as carerworkers.

Those providing complementary services
This would include those who provide the services that can enhance the provision of the scheme and are providing complementary services such as befriending, social activities, meals-on-wheels.
Those providing medical and social services
This would be PHNs, social workers, occupational therapists, SLT’s, specialist nurses (catheter nurses for example), home phlebotomists, as well as medical gerontologists

In order to achieve such a diverse consultation process, it requires materials and mechanisms that are appropriate to the diverse audiences that need them.

Hard-to-reach audiences

People with disabilities, cognitive impairments, dementia life-limiting illnesses and professional carers, migrant workers and family carers can be hard to reach, but their views and insights, are vital in shaping a robust homecare scheme.

Consultative fora are useful policy processes as they bring people together specifically to discuss a point of policy. In order for this to work for the audiences listed above, however, special provisions may need to be put in place to make sure that they can participate fully. This may inform when and how the process takes place, and may include, the provision of transport, translation services etc.

Other possible approaches may be the commissioning of a parallel research process that will undertake in-depth interviews with a diverse range of people who are in receipt of homecare and with people who provide care.

Providing a context
In consultation processes, it is important to gather the practical experiences of those who are set to benefit from a scheme. It is, however, vital that people understand the context into which they are providing their insight and experiences.
The process should provide material in formats that are suitable for the audiences that will be using them. For example, a Plain English version of the Health Research Board report which will explore different international models of providing homecare should be made available as part of the process. A low-literacy publication explaining the process would also be useful for people with intellectual disabilities or people delivering care who do not have English as their first language.
It should also provide sufficient detail to give people an overview of support needs and costs currently met, unmet and projected, broken down by geographical areas , informed by OECD data and other reputable international providers of research and policy analysis.

Feedback mechanisms
Even with a number of consultation fora, the process will still need to presume that many people receiving care or providing care will not be in a position to attend events to provide feedback. This will require other feedback mechanisms such as a telephone / Skype process and the circulation of a survey on homecare.

Following-up
The process needs to have a dissemination mechanism to follow up with those who provided their insight and experiences to the process. While providing a satisfying affirmation to participants, it is also an ethical approach to participation in a discovery process such as this. It is also a mechanism to prove to people that their participation can have an influence on how policy is shaped.

We also believe that once the consultation has been concluded there is a valuable role that we, as organisations representing homecare clients, Family Carers and careworkers, can play in working with the Department to shape the final design of the proposed homecare scheme and we would like to put on the record our willingness to play our part.

List of NGOs who Contributed to this Paper:
Active Ageing Partnership, Age Action, Age & Opportunity, Alone, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Care Alliance Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland, Family Carers Ireland, Irish Association of Social Workers, Irish Hospice Association, Migrant Right Centre of Ireland, MS Ireland, Sage / Third Age

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

ALONE welcomes inaugural National Positive Ageing Forum and commends Minister McEntee for giving a voice to the Aging Sector

30th March 2017 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has commended the first ever National Positive Ageing Forum which was launched today by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee T.D., as part of the implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, speaking at the launch commented, “ALONE welcomes the fact that the government is listening to the organisations working on a day-to-day basis with older people as part of the implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS). All of the Ageing Sector organisations are aligned in their recommendations to the government, so it is fantastic that we finally have the opportunity to come together and engage with the relevant Government Departments on the key issues facing older people in Ireland.”

He continued, “On an individual and community level, we really need to look at how we want to take care of our older population. We need to keep planning and looking long term every year, as Ireland’s older population is set to reach 1.4million over the next 30 years. With the older demographic growing at such an unprecedented rate, it is necessary to have government backing for our solutions.”

Moynihan concluded, “We would like to thank Minister McEntee for initiating this forum and allowing the voices of the Ageing Sector to be heard. In responding to the current needs and demographic change a cross government department, agency and sectoral approach is essential. By coming together we will truly make Ireland a great place in which to be and grow old.”

ALONE works with older people 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.

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

ALONE & HSE launch New Support Coordination Services for Older People in North Dublin

23rd March 2017  A new Support Coordination Service for older people in the Dublin North City and County area was launched in Swords County Hall today. ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has partnered with the HSE to expand its support services to all older people living in these communities.

The ALONE Support Coordination Service aims to respond to and address any issues facing older people, which are impacting on their ability to remain living independently in their own home. The charity’s Support Coordinators assist older people who live in a range of accommodation types; privately owned, private rented or social housing homes.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, added, “Repeated studies have demonstrated that ageing at home is the first choice of older people and their families. Our Support Coordination Service addresses issues faced by older people living in their own homes and works with statutory bodies, community organisation and other service providers to ensure that the older people get what they deserve. This can include anything from access to clothing allowances to addressing unsafe living environments, coordinating home adaption’s or linking older people in with befriending services in their area.”

Mary Walshe, Head of Social Care HSE, commented, “Support coordination services in the community are vitally important to empower and help older people to age well at home. It is important that older people feel supported in receiving the care they need and to live in a place of their own choosing. This new partnership between ALONE and the HSE will enhance the supports and services offered to older people in the community and ensure that all older people in the area have access to these services.”

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

ALONE drives forward with ElectroRoute and Mitsubishi Corporation in supporting older people to age at home

Charity receives donation of Electric Car to mark 40th Anniversary

22nd March 2017  ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, today received a donation of a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) from ElectroRoute, the leading Irish energy trading and services firm, and Mitsubishi Corporation, the global, integrated business enterprise headquartered in Japan. This donation marks ElectroRoute and Mitsubishi Corporation’s recent partnership and ALONE’s 40th Anniversary.

The electric car will be used by ALONE’s Support Coordinators to bring older people to hospital, GP and various other appointments, to make deliveries to older people’s homes and to travel throughout the country offering befriending training to other organisations, within the Befriending Network Ireland.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, expressed his delight at the donation, “Thank you to ElectroRoute and Mitsubishi Corporation for supporting ALONE. This car will make an enormous difference to us in practical support, assisting us to provide various services to older people. We are thrilled that the team at ElectroRoute chose ALONE as their charity partner for this initiative.”

Commenting on the donation to ALONE, ElectroRoute CEO Ronan Doherty said: “To mark our recent partnership and our value of Corporate Responsibility to Society we are really pleased to offer a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to ALONE which this year celebrates 40 years supporting older people to age at home.”

Yoshinori Katayama, New Energy & Power Generation Division COO, of Mitsubishi Corporation, added “We are delighted that this car will be of practical use to the team at ALONE in providing its valued befriending, support, advocacy and housing services to older people throughout Ireland.”

In October 2016, the two companies announced a deal that saw Mitsubishi Corporation take a 60% stake in the Irish company. The deal allows ElectroRoute, which already trades across eight European markets, to continue to scale its operations internationally with the support of Mitsubishi Corporation’s extensive global network.

2017 marks 40 years since ALONE was founded by Willie Bermingham. 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 hundreds of older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.

On your marks, get set… Go running in support of ALONE at this year’s VHI Women’s Mini Marathon

 

Repro Free: 16th March 2017. Lisa Lambe, Irish actress and singer, and a team of ALONE fundraisers launched the charity’s VHI Women’s Mini Marathon campaign in Dublin today. ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is calling on women throughout the country to participate in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon in aid of ALONE. The charity aims to raise money to go towards the provision of vital befriending services for older people who may be suffering from loneliness or isolation. Pictured with Lisa Lambe was Fiona Dunkin, Imogen O'Rourke and Sophie Ainscough. Picture Jason Clarke

20th March 2017 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is calling on women throughout the country to participate in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon in aid of ALONE. The charity aims to raise money to go towards the provision of vital befriending services for older people who may be suffering from loneliness or isolation.

This year the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, 5th June. The course will be 10km long and the event will take place in Dublin City Centre. The VHI Women’s Mini Marathon is the largest all female event of its kind in the world and the largest one day charity event in Ireland.

Speaking about the event, CEO of ALONE Sean Moynihan said, “We are hoping that women from around Ireland pledge their support to the older people in our communities and run the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon on behalf of ALONE to raise much needed funds for our Befriending Service.”

He continued, “Through the years, a high proportion of our volunteers and donors have always been female. ALONE’s Befriending Service provides companionship to older people who are socially isolated through a weekly volunteer visit as well as a range of social events. We are continually developing the service to ensure that all older people who require it will have access to a quality assured befriending service.”

ALONE’s Befriending Service provides companionship to over 500 older people. Befriending Network Ireland, led by ALONE, is a national network of Befriending Services for vulnerable and older people that aims are to provide training, quality, transparency as well as a national voice for befriending. ALONE is the only Befriending Service in the country to have a quality award and are passionate about ensuring quality across Befriending Services.

Registration for the marathon is now open at: www.vhiwomensminimarathon.ie

For more information about how you can help fundraise for ALONE and to receive your ALONE mini-marathon pack email fundraising@alone.ie or call 01 679 1032.

ALONE calls on public to visit older people this Friendship Week 13th-17th February

Dublin, 13th February 2017 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is highlighting the importance of their Befriending Service during Friendship Week 2017 (13th-17th February). ALONE believes that Befriending can act as a preventative health measure in tackling the effects of loneliness among older people.

In Ireland, one third of older people over 65 live alone and 60% of people aged over 80 live alone. In recent years, a wide range of studies have shown that isolation and loneliness affect the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of an individual. With the number of over-65s living in Ireland expected to increase to 1.4 million by 2046, ALONE is reminding the general public to extend the hand of friendship to the older members of their communities this Friendship Week.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE commented, “It is vitally important that as we age we maintain strong links with our local community. Older people need good services of a consistent quality, to ensure that they don’t slip through the cracks and become isolated from other people”.

ALONE’s Befriending Service provides companionship to over 500 older people who are socially isolated through a weekly volunteer visit as well as a range of social events. ALONE are continually developing the service to ensure that all older people who require it will have access to a quality assured Befriending Service.

Sean Moynihan commented, “As an organisation that works with older people, we see firsthand the effects of loneliness. I don’t think that people are aware just how devastating loneliness can be for your general health. Not only can loneliness lead to depression, but it is also a predictor for dementia, cardiovascular disease and decreased immune system responsiveness. Loneliness is twice as dangerous to the health of an older person as obesity, and is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

He continued “Many older people think that by asking for help and support they are bothering people. We want them to know that they deserve more than a little help and support and they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.”

Befriending Network Ireland, led by ALONE, is a national network of Befriending Services for vulnerable and older people that aims are to provide training, quality, transparency as well as a national voice for befriending. ALONE is the only Befriending Service in the country to have a quality award and are passionate about ensuring quality across Befriending Services.

Moynihan concluded, “This Friendship Week, we implore older people who are feeling isolated to reach out to Befriending Network Ireland or someone in their own community for help. We’re also asking the public to set aside 10 minutes to call in on any older persons they think may benefit from seeing a friendly face. It could be the highlight of someone’s week.”

For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032. To make a donation and help aid ALONE’s work visit www.alone.ie

ALONE – The provision of quality home care packages for older people is a necessity

ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is calling on the government to make homecare a legal right, ensuring that all older people are supported to age in the community.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “The principle of ageing at home, and having the right and ability to do so, has been government policy since the 1970s. It has cross-party support, it’s in the programme for government and it was in every political party’s 2016 general election manifesto.Despite the stated intention to support people staying in their homes, there is no legal right to home care in Ireland. In the Fair Deal Scheme if you are assessed for a nursing home place and deemed to qualify, the state is legally obliged to ensure you get a bed. If you are assessed for home care, it may be decided that you need eight hours a week but you will only get whatever the resources will allow which could be 2 hours a week.”

Repeated studies have demonstrated that ageing at home is the first choice of older people and their families. A 2016 study found that over 50% of older people awaiting, or sent to, long term care (nursing homes) from hospital wished to remain at home and could have done so. Home help hours are proven to be a much more cost effective and person-centred way of supporting people with medium support needs to age at home rather than moving them into the nursing home system.

Fine Gael’s 2016 manifesto promised 12.6 million annual home help hours. However, in reality this figure was at less than 10.5 million hours. Therefore, there was no increase on 2015 figures. Overall, approximately 1.3 million home help hours have been cut since 2010. In that time, the number of older people in the state has increased by 18%.

ALONE believes that investing in home care packages is a major part of solving the hospital trolley crisis and overcrowding in emergency departments, as older people are being forced to remain in acute hospital beds due to lack of supports to go home.

Moynihan commented, “Older people made up 81% of all delayed discharges in the most recent figures from the HSE (August 2016). Delayed discharge is linked to a lack of access to long term care facilities and organisation of community supports. The older person may be medically ready to leave the hospital but are unable to as the necessary care, support or accommodation is not readily available. 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.”

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 state’s statutory obligation to provide long-term residential care must be extended to community care. The provision of quality home care packages for older people is a necessity.”

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

Happy Christmas

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From all of the Staff & Volunteers in ALONE I would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and every best wish for 2017. Your wonderful and varied support  allows ALONE to reach out to help older people in our community. This support has made a huge difference to the lives of older people.

Please visit our website http://alone.ie/  to see the difference you are making.

Once again thank you and we wish you a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

 

Best Wishes,

333

 

 

Seán Moynihan

Chief Executive