ALONE call for reform of housing and care supports for older people

ALONE call on the next Government to implement alternative housing options for older people

Dublin, 1 June 2020: ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has called for reform of housing and care supports provided to older people, saying the COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the flaws and gaps in the current system.

ALONE has called on Government to commit to providing Housing with Support options which enable older people with medium to high support needs to live in the community, with the additional support they need to live independently, or semi-independently.

62% of all deaths from COVID-19 in Ireland have been residents of care homes.

“ALONE and other organisations have been calling for Housing with Support options to be provided for older people for many years. While nursing homes have a vital role to play in provision of care for older people with high levels of need, they should not be the only option for older people who require additional support to live at home,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “We have worked with older people who have prematurely moved to nursing homes because they could not get the support they needed to live independently, and older people who are currently living at home and struggling to stay well, because those supports are not available.”

He continued, “The next Programme for Government must contain a commitment to alternative options, including Housing with Support, for older people. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health Simon Harris, as well as numerous other TDs and commentators, have referenced the need for change to the current system in recent weeks. We are asking them and all TDs not to forget this in the continuing negotiations for the Programme for Government. The COVID-19 outbreak has sadly highlighted what so many of us across this sector have known and been calling for, for many years: we need a system of care which provides fully funded home support for older people who want to live at home, as well as options which provide extra support for older people to live in the community.”

In the past few years, ALONE has seen a lack of investment in community services for older people in favour of acute services. The organisation believes that much of the COVID-19 relief funding has gone into hospitals and acute services, with less emphasis put on services for older people within local communities. ALONE has called for increased funding for the Home Support service and other supports which offer older people independence.

In ALONE’s Housing Choices for Older People: Time for Action report published almost two years ago, the organisation called for 45,905 units of shared and supported housing scheme accommodation for older people, including Housing with Supports.1

ALONE has also welcomed the recent establishment of a COVID-19 Nursing Home Expert Panel by Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Since it launched in March, ALONE has received more than 22,272 calls for support. In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 86,402 calls to older people who needed support. 76% of the older people who called the ALONE helpline are living alone. Approximately 20% of the older people who have called are now getting longer term support from ALONE.

ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. The helpline, which is running in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE and Local Authorities, is available to all older people including those who have not used ALONE’s services previously. ALONE’s support is designed to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline.

Contact ALONE on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie.