Speeches

Speech by Minister Hoctor at the launch of “Review of Meals Services to Older People in the North West Inner City of Dublin”, – (CSOP), 8 April 2008 at the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups

Introduction

Good afternoon everyone.

I am delighted to be here today to launch the “Review of Meals Services to Older People in the North-West Inner City of Dublin”, commissioned by the Council for Services to Older People (CSOP) and funded by Dublin City Council, the Dublin Inner-City Partnership, and the HSE.

I would like, at the outset, to extend my sincere thanks to Mark Hogan, and the CSOP, for kindly inviting me to officially launch this valuable report.

As Minister for Older People, I am committed to working in partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies, to improve the quality of care for older people, and to ensure that the needs of that part of our community are comprehensively addressed.

Arising from Budget 2008, a full year package of €22m has been allocated for new community-based services nationally in the area of older people. This therefore gives a total of over €420m for such new services over the last three years. This significant funding initiative has been designed to both enhance existing services that the Government had already put in place, and also to widen the range of services available.

I firmly believe that, in achieving these aims, the recent establishment of the Office for Older People emphasises the recognition of the Government to the wider and important role older people play in our society.

We are all aware that the preferred choice for many older people is to remain at home for as long as possible – if necessary with the assistance of their families and community support services. The provision of a quality Meals service plays a vital role in enabling older people to pursue independent lives in their own homes and communities.

“Review of Meals Services”

This particular review supports the internationally recognised benefits that a Meals service has on both the health and general well-being of older people.

I note that an estimated 75% of older people who participated in the review live alone. Many locals indicated that, if it were not for the service provided in the area, they would be virtually deprived of any interaction with others.

While the nutritional benefits of the service are apparent, the associated aspects – such as the opportunity for socialisation and companionship – undoubtedly enhance people’s health, well-being and ability to lead independent lives.

The document provides a valuable source of information for short and long-term planning for meal services in the North West Inner-City area, and proposes a framework for the development of such services in the future. This covers, for example, recommendations in relation to strategy and guiding principles, eligibility, integration of supports and organisation and management issues. The detailed recommendations in the Review pertaining to local service provision would, in the first instance, be a matter for consideration by the HSE in the context of determining its overall demands and priorities.

Staff and Volunteers

The work that is carried out by voluntary agencies such as An Síol Community Development Project, St. Bricin’s Court Management Committee, and St. Vincent’s Trust, is to be applauded. I understand that, between them, they provide meals to approximately 135 older people each day, Monday to Friday. This simply would not happen without the generosity and commitment of the staff and volunteers involved, and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their invaluable contribution. In addition, I would like to equally acknowledge the important partnership contribution of the private sector played in this case by Welcare, in conjunction with the HSE.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like once again to thank you for your kind invitation to launch the Review today. I would also like to wish you all every success with your future endeavours to improve services for older people in your local community, in partnership with the statutory services.