I wish to highlight the need for supported housing for older people across Fingal.
Over recent months i have received a number of representations from older people and their relatives in towns across Fingal in relation to the need for more supported housing tailor made for older people. In particular people from Skerries, Malahide and Portmarnock have raised this issue. This is no surprise as these three towns have the highest percentage of over 60s and over 70s in Fingal. It’s clear there is a gap in provision between the cohort of people who need a level of support to stay in their own homes and those whose needs can only currently be met in a nursing home environment. There are really excellent community based models in the European context that we simply have not learned from in Ireland. So many people could be accommodated in tailor made supported housing if we had it but they end up going into the nursing home system. Supported housing for older people is much better able to keep people in their own communities for all their lives, it also enhances a person’s social network and helps keeps isolation and poorer mental and physical health at bay.
The Age Friendly Initiative in Fingal is certainly an excellent programme and I understand that at the moment the Age Friendly Housing Sub-Committee in Fingal is assessing the housing needs of older people. I have written to the Chair of the Sub-Committee to ask that the Committee seriously considers supported housing for older people as one of the options to address the housing needs of older people in Fingal. Obviously people will ideally want to stay in their own home for as long as they can and I welcome the pilot OPRAH (Older People Remaining at Home) Initiative in this regard. When remaining at home is no longer the best option we need to be offering our older people much more attractive options that what is currently available. It could be one of the saddest events of a person’s life if they not only have to move out of their home but also their community – supported housing needs to be in the mix as an option.
I don’t think we can truly call ourselves an Age-Friendly County until all our senior citizens are satisfied that there are housing options that will allow them to the rest of their lives in the communities that they are a part of. This particularly needs to be considered in the context of the number of housing units that are expected to be built in Fingal in the coming years. One of the lessons of the housing crisis should be that a 3-bed semi-d only works for one group of people who are at a particular stage in their lives. We need more variety in our housing stock and our stock pf supported housing for older people needs to be bumped up significantly in the communities where it is and will be needed.