Government housing strategy needs to provide for ageing population, says Alone

New model required to cater for needs of growing number of elderly, according to charity

Alone estimates that almost 60,000 new homes will be needed for older people who wish to move from their family home to one which is more appropriate in terms of space and design to their age and their needs. Photograph: iStock

Alone estimates that almost 60,000 new homes will be needed for older people who wish to move from their family home to one which is more appropriate in terms of space and design to their age and their needs. Photograph: iStock

 

The new Housing for All strategy to be launched next week should include ambitious targets for a new model of housing for older people that would be a hybrid between their own home and a nursing home, a charity representing older people has argued.

In a submission to the Department of Housing, the Alone organisation has argued that Minister Darragh O’Brien should make provision for 45,000 new units of housing aimed specifically at older people in terms of design, security, safety, and support services.

It has also called for “Housing with Supports” which would provide fully funded and round-the-clock support for older people who want to live at home.

“’Housing with Supports’ is a new model of housing and care provision in Ireland. It is underpinned by age appropriate housing design principles including own door living with onsite staff support (non-medical) to allow people to live with dignity and independence for as long as possible and continue to live in their community,” it states.

The supports in these schemes are available on a 24-hour basis. Alone estimates that 4,341 such units will be required.

“Alone is calling for investment in Housing with Supports as an alternative to nursing homes,” it states.

The submission, which has been seen by The Irish Times, refers to the changing demographics of Ireland, particularly an ageing population. Ireland’s over 65 population is expected to be in the region of 1.6 million by 2051.

“Housing needs to take cognisance of the demographic changes and the increase in the percentage of older people living in the society,” Alone’s chief executive Seán Moynihan told The Irish Times.

“Housing for All needs to look at the short-term and long-term housing needs. What type of housing is required in the future?

‘Something in the middle’

“At present, some older people have a choice only between staying or going into a nursing home. In most other countries there is something in the middle, housing with ongoing support. Ultimately we want to work with the Government on a model that would work successfully around the country that would allow more old people to stay in the community,” he said.

In addition, Alone estimates that almost 60,000 new homes will be needed for older people who wish to move from their family home to one which is more appropriate in terms of space and design to their age and their needs.

Some 15 percent of older home owners would be willing to “right size” to a smaller unit. Alone has said provision should be made in the plan to provide such units, as “right sizing” would free as many as 60,000 bigger homes for younger families.

Mr Moynihan said that the level of home ownership is dropping each year which will create another overhang in the future.

“There will be a huge number of people retiring who are in private rented accommodation. How do you pay the rent when you retire especially if you are on a fixed income? We will be looking for long-term leases for older people.”

The organisation has also said that over €80 million will be required over the next 10 years to provide housing adaptation grants for older people and has also called on targeted interventions to prevent homelessness amongst older people in future.

The ambitious Government plan was due to be launched in early August but it was delayed because it was not ready.