In mid 2018, ALONE – the charity that supports older people to age at home – launched a report into housing for older people which called for the development of a spectrum of housing options to better cater for the lifecycle.
It also called for investment from the Government to increase support for home adaptations and create over 100,000 additional housing units for older people.
Housing has become an increasingly prevalent issue for older people as Ireland has a growing number of older people living in the private rental sector, a difficult market for those on pension income.
From health perspective, ALONE’s research points to the benefit of intermediate care between independent living and nursing home care.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, outlines the urgency of the situation.
“In our experience, there needs to be choice in housing to allow older people to age in place. This is why we are calling for a ‘spectrum of housing’ that not only takes into consideration the needs of older people from a health, community and social inclusion perspective, but also shows an awareness of the need for different price points.
“ALONE values the importance of community based supports to be in place on the ground to enable the older person to overcome challenges, as well as to access the benefits and resources that will enable them to remain living at home. ALONE estimate that at any one time 20% of older people require some level of support intervention.”
AGE –FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES
Continuing, Mr Moynihan said, “Now is the time to begin the process of building communities for people to live in throughout their lifecycle and to support older people to age in place, preparing for the demographic change and addressing gaps in housing options.
“We believe that further planning needs to take place to ensure that this housing is located in areas of high demand, close to people’s current homes. This will ensure that people are not displaced from their communities and forced to move away from their families and social networks. National planning policy should make sites available for Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to provide more social housing with supports for older people, and for private developers to provide affordable housing. This needs to become an integral part of creating age-friendly communities.
“The cost of building smaller homes for older people is estimated between €10K – €20K cheaper than building three and four bed family homes. This will also reduce the incidence of older people having to remain in acute hospital settings, due to lack of housing options available or long delays in housing adaptations, and will reduce the numbers of older people moving to costly nursing home provision due to lack of alternative supports.
“It is estimated that the cost to the ‘Fair Deal’ scheme will increase by an additional €729m annually by 2031, as a result of demographic changes. The pressure on the private rented sector and HAP Scheme will also reduce.
“We believe that the delivery of these ambitious targets will depend on an innovative and collaborative approach between all stakeholders including the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government, Department of Health, Local Authorities, HSE and the Approved Housing Body sector,” he concluded.