Speeches

Speech for Minister Áine Brady TD at the launch of Carelocal’s Strategic Plan 2009-2011

Good morning everyone. I am delighted to be here to launch Carelocal’s Strategic Plan 2009–2011. I would like, at the outset, to extend my sincere thanks to your Board of Directors for kindly inviting me to launch it.

Government Policy

The vision of this Government is to enable older people to maintain their health and well-being, and to live active and full lives, in an independent way in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. At present, there are nearly half a million people aged 65 and over in Ireland, and the number is rising. We happily are living longer, healthier lives and should celebrate this fact.

The Government is, however, also keenly aware that the expected rise in the number of older people in our population will pose both challenges and opportunities. These challenges and opportunities will demand responses from all sectors of society – public, private, community and voluntary.

As Minister, I have a specific responsibility for the Office for Older People. The establishment of the Office last year reinforced most clearly the commitment of the Government to enhance the lives of older people. We have taken significant steps in relation to many issues in this area, and have backed these up in practical terms through considerable funding and other resource supports.

These include, for example, the introduction of the registration and inspection regime of residential care for older people in July of this year; the introduction of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (A Fair Deal) later this month; and significant development of a range of community based care services over the last three years or so.

In 2009, the HSE will provide in the region of:

  • 12 million Home Help Hours benefiting over 54,000 people;
  • 4,700 Home Care Packages in respect of approximately 8,700 people at any one time;
  • 22,000 Day or Respite care places.

These measures make a tangible difference to the daily lives of older people.

I am strongly committed to working in partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies, like Carelocal, to improve the quality of life of our older people, and to ensure that their needs are comprehensively addressed by services best in a position to do so.

Carelocal Strategic Plan 2009–2011

I understand that Carelocal’s vision is that “older people in Dublin City will be less isolated, less vulnerable, more secure, more independent and healthier through integrated services being delivered by a range of statutory and voluntary organisations”. I would fully concur with this outlook. This is underpinned by four strategic objectives:

  • To provide a comprehensive befriending service for older people experiencing loneliness and social isolation in Dublin City.
  • To recruit, retain, train and support a team of volunteers who will provide comprehensive befriending services to older people living in Dublin City.
  • To contribute to the development of policies, programmes, and initiatives that will enhance the welfare and well-being of older people in Dublin City.
  • To ensure the ongoing development of professionalism, and the implementation of effective systems and procedures within Carelocal.

Carelocal’s 34 years of befriending and supporting older people in Dublin City is widely recognised. The dedication of your volunteers is not only helping to improve the quality of life – but is also helping to reduce the social isolation – of those living alone.

Feelings of isolation can be one of the great fears of growing older, especially when mobility is an issue. As isolation is often more prevalent among older men, I’m pleased to learn that Carelocal is developing a new outreach programme aimed at enriching the lives of this specific target group living, in the Stoneybatter area.

Your other new programmes – ‘Plate Pals’ and ‘Homecoming’ – will also provide great support and companionship for our older people both in hospital, and when returning home.

Funding

The HSE recognises the important role Carelocal plays in providing support to older people in Dublin City. I understand that HSE North West Dublin has provided in the region of €18,000 this year to your organisation. This is the same amount provided in each of the previous two years, and the Executive is making stringent efforts to maintain this level of funding despite enormous financial pressures overall.

My colleagues in Pobal also awarded funding, in July 2008, of €100,000, to be drawn down over a three year period.

National Positive Ageing Strategy

One of the priorities of my office is to develop a National Positive Ageing Strategy. This will take forward the commitment in the Programme for Government “to better recognise the position of older people in Irish society”.

Positive ageing is an approach that aims to maintain and improve the physical, emotional and mental well-being of older people. The intention behind the new Positive Ageing Strategy is to ensure that policies are developed, and implemented, across all sectors, which will contribute to the best possible quality of life for older people in Ireland. Given that the well-being of older people is affected by many different factors, the new Strategy will extend well beyond the health and community sectors. These factors include income, social care, housing, transport, education and employment.

In June last, I issued an invitation for submissions on the Strategy, and am delighted by the response. I am told that in excess of 180 submissions were received. I would particularly like to take this opportunity to thank Carelocal for their submission to the National Positive Ageing Strategy. Your input is very helpful in developing the strategy.

Finally

In conclusion, I would like, once again, to thank you for your kind invitation to launch your strategic plan today. I would also like to wish you all every success in your endeavours to improve services for older people in your local community.