Housing and our ageing population

 

Sir, – The housing crisis has underlined the need for long-term planning when it comes to ensuring a steady supply of homes for all our people. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of those homes to keep people safe, healthy and secure. For older people, in particular, the current public health emergency has revealed how interlinked housing and health supports impact on both safety and wellbeing. For many years the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) has stated that the housing options available to us as we grow old are too limited. Supported housing for older people has been developed by approved housing bodies (AHBs) to the extent of approximately 9,000 units. Supported housing is part of the continuum of housing and care options for older people who need some support to live independently but do not require full residential nursing care.

In many areas throughout the country, the options for older people are restricted to either living at home as long as possible or moving to a nursing home or other form of institutional care. AHBs deliver supported housing with funding from the State. However, the approach to date has been piecemeal, without an overarching framework for housing and care and often a lack of integration with local health services. While the developments to date are exemplar models and much expertise has been developed within the housing association sector, the roll-out of these developments needs to be promoted nationwide so that as we age we have the choice to remain in our communities.

The programme for government commits to a number of actions to promote ageing in place, including embedding options for older people into the planning system and tasking local authorities to work with approved housing bodies, co-operatives, private developers, and Age Friendly Ireland on the development of older-person housing.

We welcome this commitment and will do our part to bring choice into the housing system so that there are options which allow older people to remain in their communities with purpose built and designed homes and appropriate supports to allow our ageing population to live with dignity and independence. – Yours, etc,

KAREN MURPHY,

Director of Policy;

KEN REID,

Information

and Communications

Coordinator,

Irish Council

for Social Housing, Dublin 2.