Additional funding for Seniors Alert Scheme in Meath West after applications quadruple nationally – English

Active Retirement, Agher, Athboy, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Carnaross, Castlepollard, Clonard, Collinstown, Delvin, Dromone, Enfield, Fire Safety, Funding, Health, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Trim, Wesmeath

Additional funding is available for the Seniors Alert Scheme in Meath West following an upsurge in applications nationally for the free personalised alarms for people over 65, local Minister for Housing and Urban Development Damien English T.D. has said. He is urging local older people to sign up and avail of the funding.

The objective of the Seniors Alert Scheme is to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.

Minister English’s colleague, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, initially allocated €2.3 million for the Seniors Alert Scheme in October. The rate of applications for personal alarms quadrupled nationally in November after Minister Ring widened the eligibility criteria for the scheme and launched a nationwide publicity campaign, leading the Minister to also allocate an additional €400,000.

Minister English, the Fine Gael T.D. for Meath West said “It’s very positive to see a good uptake for this scheme nationally, but we need to see more older people in Counties Meath and Westmeath be made aware of it and to avail of this important scheme.

“We need to make sure that as many of our older people avail of this scheme as possible, which is why I am encouraging everyone reading this to get the word out there as widely as possible.

“All you have to do is make contact with your local Seniors Alert group. You can find out about your local group by logging on to or phoning 01 5117222.

“The community groups that are supporting its delivery are providing a valuable service and deserve great credit.

“This measure exists with the support of local voluntary groups and if users feel in danger or require immediate assistance they can activate the device which will alert designated members of their community who can then assist them.

“There is free personal monitoring of the alarm for the first 12 months after which the person pays a small fee. This measure contributes greatly to the safety and wellbeing of senior citizens in their homes.

“This funding for Meath West seniors demonstrates this Government’s commitment to the safety of older people in our community,” the Minister for Housing and Urban Development said.

“The best New Year’s resolution you can make is to get an older relative or neighbour to sign up for free a personalised alarm, or help them to do so.

“I want to urge people to keep an eye on their elderly neighbours at this time of year. The Winter months can be a challenging time for some older people. Small gestures can make a big difference for someone who is living alone. Reaching out to an older person in your community can help brighten up their New Year, whether it’s popping in for a chat, or lighting the fire or bringing someone some food.”


Launch of ‘Being Age Friendly in the Public Realm’

Active Retirement, Health, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Navan, Transport, Trim

Launch of ‘Being Age Friendly in the Public Realm’

Meath County Council Chambers, Navan, 18th October, 2016 

Minister Helen McEntee Speaking at Age Friendly Launch Group shot Age Friendly Launch

Cathaoirleach, Mayor, Minister McEntee, elected members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen I am delighted to be here today. Thank you to Meath County Council and Age Friendly Ireland for the invitation.

Local government has a very clear purpose and a definite direction. The policy document ‘Putting People First’ drives that direction that we are all going in. It has prompted City and County Councils to identify the functions most relevant at local level and, in particular, the functions that Councilsmust take a strong lead on.

Empowering the citizen to participate in the development of their community, both rural and urban, is central to this new model of governance and service delivery.

I am very mindful that ageing is not solely a health issue – it requires awhole of Government response. The challenges and opportunities associated with an ageing population can be met and indeed exploited by planning now on a whole of Government basis. I am delighted therefore to be here today with my Ministerial colleague Helen McEntee.

The Age Friendly Programme approach represents a real exemplar of good integrated and devolved local government. The city and county wide consultation processes that are central to the Age Friendly Programme provide a key means for the voice of the older person to be heard and for this voice to influence and inform local decision making.

Government policy is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. In respect of my own Department I am very conscious that housing has a key role to play in supporting older people to age comfortably in the community they belong to.

I am also very aware of the important role of the public realm in supporting access and participation.

As people age they spend more time in and close to their own homes. This means that older people’s quality of life, and thus their health, can depend on how age aware or age attuned our public realm is.

The design and maintenance of a community’s built environment can make the difference between a healthy and active lifestyle, or one characterised by limited mobility and high levels of social isolation. The way an area looks and how safe it feels has a big impact on older people’s confidence and motivation.

‘Being Age Friendly in the Public Realm’ – this document being launched today – is a very practical resource. It brings together many of the key approaches introduced across recent years which have helped to make our outdoor spaces and public realm pleasant, clean, accessible and safe for older people, creating walkable communities and more age friendly spaces.

Very often simple things will improve everyone’s access and thus their confidence to stay engaged and to participate in the wider community. Practical changes to public seating, our parks and green areas can have an impact on older people’s motivation to stay active.

The introduction of tone zones has encouraged people of all ages to enjoy more connected lives. Age Friendly parking, pedestrian crossings and signage that is ‘age aware’ can support older people to feel safer when out and about, and so feel more confident to stay active and to participate in the wider community

I welcome these practical resource documents and the associated programme of training on ‘age friendly housing and the public realm’ developed by Age Friendly Ireland. I am particularly pleased to see this very local age friendly work being supported so actively by Meath County Council, the age Friendly Alliance and the Older People’s Council across towns such as Kells and Trim.

It is through this kind of leadership and innovation and resources such as this that we will be better supported to scale up these local, proven and very often practical models into the consistent application of age friendly initiatives across a wider geography – be that all the way across Meath or indeed all the way across Ireland.

The Age Friendly Towns programme, which has supported change at the level of the town, village and neighbourhood, has shown how very practical and low cost, and at times ‘no-cost’ interventions, can make a big difference to the lives of older people.

It is through this kind of practical planning that we will be better placed to meet the challenges that lie ahead for our older citizens. I am delighted therefore to be here today to support its launch.


National Ploughing Championships 2016

Action Plan for Housing, Farming, Food, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Wesmeath

At the National Ploughing Championships today in Tullamore to launch a €100k prize for innovative designs for housing for older people.  Great to meet many exhibitors, participants and visitors from Meath and beyond, and from the farming sector and outside of it too.  This a really great national gathering not just for rural dwellers and the agri-sector but for all Irish people.

For more pictures check out my Facebook page here:

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English welcomes Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s pre-Budget submission

Health, Meath, Wesmeath
Monday, 4th July 2016
English welcomes Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s pre-Budget submission

Local Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal has welcomed the
Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s pre-Budget submission, the launch of
which he attended last week in Dublin at the request of Meath members
of the Society including Anne Marie Russell.

“I was highly impressed by the cases made by both medical
professionals, researchers, and those with practical experience of
caring for a loved one, as to the benefits of a home care approach for
as long as is possible” he said.

“The emphasis in the document towards greater home based care for
loved ones is something I think every Irish person values the most,
and aspires towards.  There is a budgetary process to be gone through,
but I will be offering my support to the proposals from the Alzheimer
Society.  I intend to work with my Meath and MInisterial colleague
Helen McEntee, who is responsible for Mental Health and Older People,
on this issue, over the summer months” Minister English stated.


Free GP card will result in real savings for over 70s in Meath and Westmeath

Active Retirement, Health, Meath, Wesmeath


The start of registration for the Free GP Care service for people aged 70 and over is a great boost for the elderly in Meath and Westmeath and an important step towards universal healthcare.

Today’s announcement by Minister for Health Dr. Leo Varadkar means that from August 5th, all those aged 70 and over in Meath and Westmeath will be able to see their GP without paying fees. This is the second phase of universal GP care and applies to those who do not currently hold a medical or GP visit card.

A simple online registration system is available from today (Friday) on Alternatively people can locall 1890 252 919 to receive a copy by post and the registration form will also be available in pharmacies and local health offices. People should note that persons over 70 who already hold a medical or GP visit card do not need to register. If anyone needs help or guidance they can contact the helpline 1890 252 919 (weekdays 8am-8pm).

This is great news for families across Meath and Westmeath as now, for the first time in Ireland, the eldest and youngest in our society will be able to access GP care without being charged.

Free GP care was a key Fine Gael election commitment and this is just a step along that road. Already this year we have introduced free GP care for under 6s. Now just under 40,000 people over 70 who had to pay for visiting their GP will no longer have to and this will result in real savings for pensioners.

The free GP card for over 70s is an important step towards changing the health system from one that only treats sick people to one that keeps people well.

Minister English keynote speaker at Active Retirement Regional AGM

Active Retirement, Meath


Today I was the keynote speaker at the Active Retirement Ireland Regional AGM for the North East.

The AGM, which also featured an Activity Day and Information Stands was sponsored by homecare for older people providers Home Instead. Former RTE Newsreader Anne Doyle officially opened the event.

It was an honour to address the Regional ARI AGM in the Ardboyne Hotel: As a Meath man, I am particularly pleased at the fact that Meath alone houses 30 of the 50 local branches in the region. An active healthy retirement is something which all of us hope and pray for. Retirement is a time in life to do the things that might not have been possible in the decades of balancing work and family. Keeping active – both in body and mind – not just means that you can fully participate in your community, but it also provides potential for huge social benefit.

My address touched on a number of issues

Gender and Mental Health

It’s notable that more women than men seem to engage with Active Retirement, and this represents a challenge for all of us: rural isolation and less social contact can contribute to poor mental health. Getting out and about and socialising can play a significant role in improving our well-being

Life long learning and mentoring

In my role as Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, I am acutely aware of the role which learning and education play in everyone’s life. Life-long learning is something which everyone can benefit from, especially during retirement.

It is a way of defining any learning that we engage in from cradle to grave.

As Minister with responsibility for Lifelong Learning, I know that there is growing awareness that education is a lifelong process and that learning should occur at all stages of life, in line with the concept of lifelong learning.

Nowadays, all of us have to continually develop our skills and further our knowledge to keep pace with a fast-changing world. But we also have a duty to share our skills and our experiences formally and informally with the younger generation, and to act as guides and mentors.

This is an opportunity for older people and for Active Retirement Ireland that I asked them to think about and act on.

Social Inclusion Monitor

I am very aware of the negative impact which our severe economic recession has had on many communities, and indeed on many personal incomes. However, it is worth noting that the State’s latest Social Inclusion Monitor, which reports on progress towards the national social target for poverty reduction, shows the at-risk-of-poverty rate at its lowest level since 2010. Ireland continues to have one of the best-performing social protection systems in the EU in terms of reducing poverty through social transfers.

Budget 2015

In the most recent Budget 2015 the Living Alone Allowance was increased from €7.70 to €9.00 per week at a cost of €12 million a year – 177,500 pensioners and people with disabilities benefited from this.

Role of Grandparents in Childcare

I know as the father of 4 children under 5 that Grandparents are playing a greater role than ever before as childminders, and in some cases raring a 2nd family all over again. This can be a really special and joyous experience, but I know too that the novelty can wear off. Some grandparents are older than others and not in great health. The views of Active Retirement volunteers regarding our childcare system and ways to reform and expand it are something I would also like to hear about so I can take them on board and pass them on to colleagues in Government.