Launch of Report: Evaluation Phase 1 of Dublin City Age Friendly Housing with Support Model

Launch of Report: Evaluation Phase 1 of Dublin City Age Friendly Housing with Support Model

Damien English, T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Development

Mansion House

4 May 2018

Opening Remarks

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be with you for the launch of this report on age friendly housing.

The report, which Dr. Kathy Walsh set out for us so clearly this morning, contains the results of an evaluation of the first phase of the Housing with Support Demonstration project.

It is a key priority for Government under the Rebuilding Ireland Plan, with which I am very proud to be associated.

I would like to congratulate Dr. Walsh for her hard work in producing this valuable report on this important issue.

The evaluation of phase one and the toolkit that has been developed will provide a useful reference and guidebook for others who want to replicate this ‘housing with supports’ model in other parts of the country.

I would like to thank Dublin City Council, who generously provided the site for this project, on their lands in Inchicore.

Thanks especially to Brendan Kenny, Deputy Chief Executive and Céline Reilly, Executive Manager in the Council.

The provision of housing is not just about numbers of houses built. It is about how we plan for the future. What we plan today will have an immense impact on how well people will live in their homes in the years ahead.

A key objective of Rebuilding Ireland is to deliver housing that meets current needs while contributing to wider objectives. Rebuilding Ireland also recognises the importance of planning housing for an ageing population.

The fact that this project was brought forward as a pathfinder housing project was significant. It had to be based on best practice and cost effectiveness. as well as taking a cross departmental, interagency approach to housing initiatives for older people. I would like to acknowledge the cooperation between:

My own Department,

The Department of Health,

Dublin City Council,

The HSE,

Age Friendly Dublin,

The Irish Council for Social Housing,

The Approved Housing Bodies and The Housing Agency.

Thanks to all of you, we have a timely project for the future. This was delivered in no small part thanks to the steering committee and its effective chairing by Maurice O’Connell.

Reading the report, so many more people were involved. I want you to know that your work is very much appreciated.

I would like to acknowledge the older people who took the time and care to tell us exactly what is needed for your future independent living. Your evidence is the bedrock to the success of this phase.

Demographics

While Ireland is a relatively young country, one of the key challenges facing us in the years ahead is planning for and addressing the needs of our rapidly ageing population.

The ageing of our population represents one of the most significant demographic and societal developments that this country faces, with the number of people over the age of 65 expected to reach 1.4 million by 2041.

Across the same period, the number over the age of 80 is set to quadruple to 480,000. The implications for public policy in areas such as housing, health and planning are considerable.

Announcing Funding for Housing Adaptation Grants

With such statistics, it is fitting that as well as launching the Evaluation Report today, I am also announcing the 2018 funding that has been secured for the Housing Adaptation Grants Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability.

I am pleased to say that funding of €66.25m has been secured for the schemes in 2018. This is an increase of 11% on 2017.

Over 9,000 households benefitted under the Scheme last year, and with this additional funding, we aim to support the improvement and adaptation of 10,000 homes this year.

I am very aware of the social benefit accruing from these grants in terms of facilitating older people and people with a disability to remain living in their own homes for longer.

It is also very important that these grants can be readily accessed by those who need them. For that reason, my Department has liaised with local authorities to review the accessibility of the scheme and is now working to streamline the application process.

We are moving to a single application form to cover the three schemes:

  1. the grants to assist people with a disability;
  2. those to assist older people in poor housing conditions;
  3. and the mobility aids funding.

This better application arrangement, along with an ‘Easy Read Guide’ to filling the form, will make the grants more accessible to those who need them.

Further consideration will also be given to increasing the funding over the coming years in line with the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland.

Government Policy on Older People

In recognising and valuing the achievement and benefits of our population living longer, we need to ensure that their quality of life is maintained and nurtured.

Government policy in relation to housing for older people, as set out in the Programme for Government and Rebuilding Ireland, is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Research has consistently shown that older people wish to ‘age in place’ close to their families, friends and in the community where they may have lived for many years.

In the past the traditional approach has been to keep older people in their own homes if they can manage, and if not, place them into high support accommodation, such as nursing homes.

It is really good to see more choice in housing types being planned to accommodate our ageing population. This project exemplifies the type of new offering that can be made available for older people in Ireland.

This policy approach is also seen as both contributing to a greater sense of wellbeing for older people and being cost effective. For many, living in adapted or specialist housing reduces reliance on health and social care services and can result in measurably improved health status.

It is important to acknowledge that housing policy for older people is broader and more complex than the mere provision of bricks and mortar.

Indeed, addressing the needs of older people requires a cross-Departmental approach and inter-agency co-operation. The provision of housing for older people, particularly as we look at the future needs of our ageing population, will require a good mix of housing and health policy.

St. Michael’s Estate Pilot Project under Rebuilding Ireland

The St. Michael’s Estate site in Inchicore has been identified as a “Housing with Support” pilot model under Rebuilding Ireland. It will deliver 52 homes.

It is intended to set a new standard for the future of housing provision for older people and to act as an exemplar for others to follow.

The project has been approved for funding of almost €15 million under my Department’s Capital Assistance Scheme with a contribution of €450,000 from the HSE towards additional communal facilities for the residents.

These homes are being future proofed even before they are built, with extra space in all the homes to allow for care staff and/or family overstays, whichever is the more appropriate as time goes by.

This project offers the opportunity for Circle AHB and Alone to design, build and operate a unique development. The new purpose-built housing units will have a range of on-site supports. My congratulations on winning the commission and I wish you every success in successfully delivering on the project.

The ‘Housing with Support’ model brings together a range of services and supports – principally relating to housing, community, social and care needs.

It enables older persons to live full lives in their own homes within their own community. It enables independence and reduces the need to move into long term residential care.

The overall aim is to develop a new model of housing for older people where the key components, physical environment and care supports are provided on-site, integrated into the community and are designed with older people at the core.

Phasing of the Project

Phase 1 of the project focused on the development of the concept and overall design; Phase 2 will provide the detailed design and build process.

It would be my wish and hope that this project will continue with all speed – funding is in place – and that building would commence as soon as possible so that we get to Phase 3, which will see residents move in and occupy the housing by 2020.

It is important that all the key stakeholders continue to work together on this project and drive it forward.

Concluding Remarks

The project we are discussing today is an important element of the Rebuilding Ireland Plan and is all the more significant for the cohort it seeks to support – our older people.

I hope the Inchicore project is the first of many such projects around the country and while I am delighted that Dublin City Council provided the site for this demonstrator project, I see no reason why others can’t replicate this model with private sites and funding.

I want to thank you all once for your efforts to date in turning this concept into reality and I look forward to the day when the homes in Inchicore are complete and occupied.

I want to especially single out the contribution of the chair of the Steering Group, Maurice O’Connell for mention. Maurice has shown a personal commitment to the project, over and above anything that could have been expected. His enthusiasm and drive for the project is infectious and in no small way has brought us to this day.

We have a good news story here and Maurice’s role in bringing housing, social and care supports together within a single scheme is to be commended. He and his Steering Committee deserve our heartiest congratulations.

In conclusion ladies and gentlemen:

  • The groundwork is now complete.
  • We now have a new practical model for housing in Ireland.
  • I look forward to seeing the next two phases of this project completed; and
  • Reaching the stage where people are moving into their new homes for what will be the next new adventure in their lives.

Well done and thank you.

ENDS

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