HOUSING

Government Committee calls for more alternative housing options for older people

Members of the Government Committee visited Barrack Street, Dundalk to deliver their speech

Tia Clarke

Reporter:

Tia Clarke

Email:

tia.clarke@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Government Committee calls for more alternative housing options for older people

Many elderly people in Ireland are left feeling isolated

The Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government has today published its ‘Report on Housing Options for Older People'. In the report, they have recommended that the Housing Adaption Grant eligibility age should be lowered from 66 to 60. 

Speaking today from 'Great Northern Haven', a "unique housing development at Barrack Street, Dundalk" which uses "cutting-edge technology to provide accommodation for older people" Committee Chairperson, Maria Bailey TD, said:

“Ireland as a nation is growing older and living longer and this is something to be celebrated. However, as the population of older people increases, Ireland will have to adapt its current housing policy to facilitate this change in demographics. We must begin the conversation about the changes in our society today so the future doesn’t surprise us.

"With this in mind, the Committee undertook a series of meetings and stakeholder engagement with the aim of publishing a report that would assist in the future planning in this area.”

TD Bailey added: “The report we have published today makes eight practical recommendations, taking into consideration the health, social and economic needs of older people. In order for older people to live at home and in their own communities for as long as possible, we are recommending that the Housing Adaption Grant eligibility age be lowered from 66 to 60.

"This would go a long way towards making homes more suitable for an older person and allow them to have necessary adaptions made in good time, rather than perhaps at a later time when a health issue develops, perhaps suddenly.”

The Committee Chairperson, Maria Bailey TD added that they were working to make more housing options and residential care facilities available for elderly people.

She said: “The Committee is also calling for mechanisms to be developed which would incentivise and promote the construction of housing options and residential care facilities located in town centres or central locations within easy access of local services. Isolation is a real concern for older people and it is important that housing developments for older people are within easy access of transport links and social opportunities.

“As part of our stakeholder engagement, we met with several organisations involved in front line services and also representatives from Great Northern Haven, a development which offers a community alternative to residential care, incorporating a range of smart living technologies to make accommodation suitable for the older people who live there. This kind of innovation and creativity is what we want to encourage and promote in local communities right across Ireland. With the relevant Ministers, Departments, State Agencies and stakeholders, the Committee is fully committed to monitoring the progress being made on the on-going implementation of the recommendations contained in our report as well as other housing policy initiatives.”

The Committee have made eight recommendations which include: 

• housing typologies in housing developments be required to match the age demographic of the area in which the development is being proposed;
• that mechanisms be developed to incentivise and promote the construction of housing options and residential care facilities located in town centres or central locations within easy access of local services; 
• that the Housing Adaption Grant eligibility be lowered from 66 years of age to 60 years of age; 
• that a cost benefit analysis be conducted into the exact costs per unit and the corresponding long term savings of implementing universal design into all housing
• that funding be standardised across local authorities for the Housing Adaption Grant.