ALONE calls for action on housing and health for older people ahead of #GE2020
ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, has called on general election candidates to prioritise actions on housing and health for older people as they released their manifesto ahead of the February 8, general election.
The organisation is calling on candidates to commit to four key asks ahead of the election to ensure the diverse needs of older people are included in the next programme for government.
ALONE also criticised the lack of vision and funding dedicated to older people’s services which is resulting in the basic needs of older people going unmet, particularly in the areas of housing and health.
“There are 20,000 more older people in poverty now than there were last year. There are more than 7,000 people on the waiting list for home support. The number of people aged 70 and over in need of social housing has increased by 9.9% in just one year. These numbers are stark and they highlight the real experiences of older people in Ireland today,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.
“Older people need more than a commitment to a fairer State Pension. We need representatives who will deliver real change for the older people we work with who are experiencing homelessness, who can’t afford to heat their homes, who are on hospital trollies, on waiting lists for home supports and those who are lonely and isolated from support structures,” he continued. “While we have seen progress and commitments in relation to some of these areas, ultimately the people we support need to see real action now, not in five or ten years’ time. Older people need financial security, safe housing, support with health and wellbeing, and to have their voices heard, but ultimately these needs are going unmet for many. We need to urgently rethink how we are supporting older people, particularly in the context of our ageing population.”
To achieve this, ALONE is asking candidates to commit to:
1. Fund home supports and health services which enable older people to age at home
2. Set targets for housing for older people and link to supports to prevent a worsening housing crisis for older people
3. Halt increases to the pension age and triple lock the State Pension
4. Appoint a Minister of state exclusively for Older People and Demographic Change
ALONE noted the importance of broadening the conversation around the policy needs of older people.
“Health and housing are the primary needs of the older people we work with. Issues including being on the waiting list for home support, spending days and nights on hospital trolleys, and the difficulties with the health services are issues which directly impact a large number of the older people we work with,” Moynihan continued. “We work with older people in their 80s receiving notices to quit, and others sleeping on friends’ sofas because they have nowhere else to go. These are the types of challenges that the older people we work with need addressed.”
“We must widen the scope of the conversation and ensure that the diverse needs of older people are being considered at the highest levels of Government. These are not currently being seriously addressed. The National Positive Ageing Strategy, which was published in 2013 and has not yet been implemented or funded nor are we fully implementing or funding Sláintecare. The next Taoiseach must commit to appointing a Minister of State for Older People and Demographic Change in their department to meet these needs and to plan for the opportunities and challenges of our ageing population,” he continued.
ALONE’s manifesto includes asks to deliver a demand-led, quality-driven statutory home support service; deliver a national strategy on loneliness and publicly allocate loneliness to a Government department; increase Rebuilding Ireland housing targets and delivery to meet demand levels; deliver homelessness exit programmes for older people; implement benchmarking and triple lock the State Pension; and to appoint a Minister of State for Older People and Demographic Change.
“We are asking the public to inform canvassers and candidates that they will consider the needs of older people a priority when making their decisions on election day. Prioritising the needs of older people is something that people of all ages should take an interest in. Ultimately this is a vote not just for older people today, but for everyone in the years to come,” concluded Moynihan.
ALONE’s full General Election Manifesto is available online here