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‘We need to look at how we take care of elderly’

By editor - 04 June, 2016

Elderly ALONE

The Government needs to listen to organisations working on a day-to-day basis with older people, the charity ALONE, which supports older people to age at home, has said.

On Friday, a new report was launched by the Irish Association of Social Workers, Age Action and Alzheimer’s Association, the findings of which ALONE has said it supports.

“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,” ALONE CEO Sean Moynihan commented.

He said almost all organisations in the sector are aligned in their recommendations “yet the Government continues to pour money into costlier solutions”.

Mr Moynihan said community supports are proven to be more cost effective than nursing home care and he described it as “incredibly baffling that the Government persists in ignoring these facts”.

“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,” Mr Moynihan continued.

ALONE has 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.

From their daily experience working with hundreds of older people, ALONE highlights how 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.

The charity has a team of Support Coordinators who work to connect older people living alone with the necessary support services in their community.

Every day, according to ALONE, the Support Coordinators experience the challenges outlined in Friday’s report.

They warned that 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.

As part of their range of services, ALONE operates a model of Housing with Care where they support older people to age at home and live independently.

According to ALONE, Housing with Care is a more cost conscious alternative to nursing homes and is better for the community and preferred by many older people.

The charity has said it 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, ALONE has stressed, highlighting how delayed discharges due to a lack of community supports are estimated to cost the HSE almost half 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.

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