Government urged to increase focus on adapting homes for elderly

Grant schemes and home-care system ‘simply not joined up’ Age Action says

Age Action head of advocacy and communications Justin Moran. Photograph: Eric Luke

Age Action head of advocacy and communications Justin Moran. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Adapting houses to enable people to live in them for longer must become part of the Government’s home-care plans, according to advocacy organisation for older people Age Action.

Justin Moran, the organisation’s head of advocacy and communications, said housing adaption grants and the home-care system are “simply not joined up”.

“The HSE is going to give you a certain amount of home-help hours [upon release from hospital] but your house is no longer suitable as your needs have changed. Maybe you need a stair lift or a ground-floor bathroom or a ramp to get up to your front door.

“The debate about home-care supports often boils down to how many home helps we can provide, and that’s critical, but it can’t be disconnected from the state of the home in which we’re trying to provide these supports.”

Local authorities currently administer the Housing Aid for Older People Scheme which provides grants of up to €8,000 to assist older people living in poor housing conditions to have repairs or improvements carried out.

The types of work typically aided under the scheme include electrical rewiring, the provision of central heating where none exists and the replacement of a broken boiler beyond repair.

Housing adaption grants are also provided to those with a physical, sensory or intellectual disability.

Dublin City Council said by the end of the year it will have completed 185 disabled-persons showers and 17 extensions, installed 26 stair lifts and provided for 22 ramps.

Local authorities also offer the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme, which covers a basic suite of works to address the mobility problems of a member of a household.

A recent report in the UK found that making small changes to older people’s homes played a significant role in relieving pressure on the NHS and social care while also reducing costs.

The report by the Centre for Ageing Better and the University of the West of England, Bristol, also showed minor home aids and adaptations could greatly improve quality of life for people who were losing mobility.