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Ireland’s ageing population — ensuring supports are in place to help our vulnerable older people

We support older people who are homeless, socially isolated, living in deprivation or in crisis.

Over 37 years ago, ALONE began the ‘Search That Building’ campaign because the vulnerable older people that needed help were often the most difficult to reach. We are now beginning another campaign to reach out to ensure that those who are most at risk receive the help they need.

ALONE knows that professionals in front line services come into contact with vulnerable older people on a daily basis and often struggle with the fact that once they have completed their medical intervention, they must disengage, often leaving the older person without the social and practical supports they could benefit from.

This is where ALONE can step in and take on co-ordination roles to link older people with the services they require. We work to complement the medical services by ensuring the older person has the practical, social and psychological supports they need to live independently in the community for as long as they wish.

ALONE support workers carry out an initial assessment with the older person to determine their needs. We try to find a resolution to their initial crisis and then work with them to ensure long-term sustainable solutions. We support the work of both the voluntary and statutory agencies and link the older person into the relevant services, where necessary. We also ensure that every older person who comes to us receives a service. If we cannot provide them with one, we link them in with an organisation in their area that can.

As part of our campaign to end loneliness, we have set up a National Befriending Network linking with befriending services for older people across the country. Loneliness is a serious health issue that is proven to be as damaging to health as smoking and obesity and we hope that a strong national befriending infrastructure will help tackle this problem.

ALONE knows that professionals in front line services come into contact with vulnerable older people on a daily basis 

Cuts of €1.6 million in home help hours over the last three years have meant that many older people are really struggling with day-to-day tasks, while the abolition of the phone allowance has also meant an increase in loneliness and isolation. Further HSE budget cuts have meant that primary and community health services are more stretched, leaving older people with a lot less professional supports available to them.

Currently, 30 per cent of older people live on their own, and 20 per cent survive on €186 per week. We have a dramatically ageing population in Ireland and as our older demographic increases, so too does the number living in deprivation. We need to work together to ensure that those who are most vulnerable do not ‘fall between the cracks’.

ALONE provides supportive housing, befriending, community response and campaigning services to hundreds of older people every week. We receive no Government funding for our day-to-day activities so we rely solely on the generosity of the public to continue our work. ALONE’s services are quality-approved and are delivered 365 days a year. We operate with a ratio of one staff member to every 18 volunteers.

We would like to remind all health workers that if they are concerned about the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, we are available to help. ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 or you can visit www.alone.ie.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Sean Moynihan,

CEO,

ALONE

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