ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is calling on the Oireachtas to provide €84.5m a year over the next 10 years in the form of home adaptation grants and to develop an additional 122,000 units of housing for older people.
The calls come as the charity releases its report ‘Housing Choices For Older People in Ireland – Time for Action’ today.
ALONE’s report calls for a greater spectrum of housing for older people under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, saying there is a need for “innovative thinking and initiatives to offer meaningful housing choices to people as they age.”
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said: “We believe that now is the time for action on housing for older people. Over the last 30 years we have seen many reports which have called for changes in housing provision for older people. Now we have established the demand for the various types of housing and we need the Oireachtas to act on it.”
He said:“We are glad to see the recommendations made by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing in its 'Report on Housing Options for Older People’ this week which are taking the first step towards developing housing for all. It is great that the Joint Oireachtas Committee agrees that we must start working on this now. We hope that the various Ministers, TDs and Senators will get behind our report and implement real change for older people. 25% people over 55 years of age (283,633 people) are experiencing problems with housing maintenance, and 20% (234,848) have housing facility problems. But 29% of people would consider moving to adapted housing if it was available to them.”
ALONE is calling for 59,462 purpose built homes within communities, 45,902 supportive housing and housing with supports units, 16,307 shared housing units and 13,000 new nursing home spaces. While this is significantly higher than the total target of Rebuilding Ireland to deliver 50,000 social housing units by 2021, ALONE believe that these targets are the minimum required in order to cope with our ageing population.
He said:“There is a pressing need for change as we expect the population of over 60s in Ireland to increase to over 1 million by 2021, and 1.3 million by 2031. If the numbers of older people are increasing, services and housing provision need to increase to match it. ALONE is here today to offer a solution which will not only support older people to age in the location of their choice, but will help to ease the housing crisis across all age groups."
Mr Moynihan said:“The benefits of building housing for older people as a solution to the housing crisis have never been fully discussed, but we believe that this could go a long way towards improving housing for everyone. The cost of building smaller homes for older people is estimated to be between €10,000 and €20,000 cheaper per unit than building three and four bed family homes. This would enable savings of €150m for every 10,000 one and two bed homes built, as older people choose to ‘right size’ and move to more suitable accommodation with the appropriate supports in place. It would also make larger properties available to bigger families.”
The report stresses that a new spectrum of housing such as that proposed by ALONE should not only take into consideration the needs of older people from a health, community and social inclusion perspective, but also show an awareness of the need for different price points. ALONE believes that older people should be enabled to have options in their housing, rather than being limited in their choice by their support needs.
He said:“Currently, if an older person is in need of support, sometimes their only choice is to move into a nursing home. This lack of intermediate supports is costing the Government through the Fair Deal scheme and costing older person their choice to remain at home.”
Mr Moynihan said:“It is vitally important that we provide choices in housing to older people to allow them to age in surroundings comfortable to them. Our research has shown that funding housing with support options, through adaptation grants etc, will save government money and protect the independence of the older person.”
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 or at www.alone.ie. The charity, which depends on donations from the public, has staff and volunteers ready to act on calls and requests for assistance.
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