Launch of Older Person’s Strategy by Minister for Older People Áine Brady

Minister for Older People Áine Brady with Pat Cogan (CEO of Respond Housing Assocaiation) at the launch of the National Strategy for Older Persons

Minister with responsibility for Older People, Áine Brady today, May 25th, launched Respond Housing Association’s “National Survey of Older People” living in social housing estates. The survey conducted by Ireland’s largest housing charity highlights the importance of helping older people to remain in their own home for as long as possible. Respond claims the need for more sheltered housing is critical as our population ages with now more than 700,000 people aged 60 years and over.

According to Respond spokesperson, Tom Power, older people have a genuine desire to live independently for as long as possible but housing and care supports must be in place to ensure this is achievable.
“This survey reinforced the view that remaining independent is important to older people. However, they have a very real fear that deteriorating health could force them to move to a nursing home for long-term care. Respond believes that preventing this will require a variety of interventions, such as housing with the provision of community based supports. Supported living or sheltered housing is seen to provide added security and peace of mind as a wide range of support services, including assistive technology, is provided. However, we have a very real lack of this type of housing in Ireland. This ageing demographic timebomb is now ticking and as a country we are not prepared for it.”

Minister Brady with Deputy Mayor of Waterford Pat Hayes

Respond argues however that the role of family, friends and neighbours cannot be underestimated and should not be taken for granted. The survey highlighted the fact that care by family was the preferred option of older people but many factors may affect this including family fragmentation, relocation of families for employment or housing reasons, labour market participation of women and increased life expectancy.

“Very often we see high levels of stress among family carers or what we now call the ‘sandwich’ generation. These people are literally sandwiched between trying to care for parents and children while at the same time balancing work and other responsibilities. This is having considerable effects on famlies, many of which we are not even aware of” added Power. “As a society we all need to be mindful of older people; our ageing population is a challenge that needs to be met by all of us.”

The aim of the national survey by Respond was to establish the needs and requirements of older residents in order to plan services and supports more effectively. As a result, the housing charity produced a “National Strategy for Older People” that was also launched by Minister Brady today in the Theatre Royal, Waterford. Respond was founded in the city in 1982 when the first Respond development of 15 houses and a community room for older people was built.