Government needs to listen to the organisations working on a day-to-day basis with older people

3rd June 2016  ALONE have commended and corroborated the report launched today by the Irish Association of Social Workers, Age Action and Alzheimer’s Association.  ALONE have long been advocating for additional home help hours and investment in community care.  Currently 75% of the government’s budget for care of older people is spent on the 6% of older people in nursing home care.

All of ALONE’s work focuses on supporting older people to age at home.  From their daily experience working with hundreds of older people ALONE recognise that home help hours are a vital element in the overall package of supports that older people need to age in the community.  ALONE work with the individual older person to coordinate the supports around their medical, social, financial and housing needs and address any obstacles that stops them ageing at home.

ALONE has a team of Support Coordinators who work to connect older people living alone with the necessary support services in their community. Every day the Support Coordinators experience the challenges outlined in today’s report. Without assistance from charities like ALONE it is incredibly difficult for older people to get access services like home help hours and as a result many are being forced into nursing homes before their time.

CEO of ALONE Sean Moynihan said, “We strongly advocate the findings outlined in this report, and feel that they largely support everything we’ve been fighting for over the last number of years. It’s time for the government to listen to the organisations working on a day-to-day basis with older people in need of care. Almost all organisations in the sector are aligned in their recommendations yet the government continues to pour money into costlier solutions. Community supports are proven to be more cost effective than nursing home care and it’s incredibly baffling that the government persists in ignoring these facts.

Moynihan continued, “On an individual and community level, we really need to look at how we want to take care of our older population. The older demographic is growing at an unprecedented rate and we need the government to back logical solutions, instead we are seeing the sector become increasingly privatised which we find extremely concerning”.

As part of their range of services, ALONE operates a model of Housing with Care where they support older people to age at home. This is a model where older people live independently with the relevant supports they need. Housing with Care is a cost conscious alternative to nursing homes which is better for the community and preferred by many older people, ALONE would welcome the opportunity to work with the government and expand this successful service.

Additional Home help hours are also key to easing crisis in hospitals – delayed discharges due to a lack of community supports are estimated to cost the HSE almost ½ million every night. Despite this, home help hours have been cut from 11.7 million in 2010 to 10.4m in 2016 and 2016’s budget for home supports is €324m while Nursing Homes Support Scheme is €940million.