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Age Action Calls for €9 per week Rise In Old Age Pension in Budget 2020

Organisation also proposes that Government commission research on the Cost of Ageing to ensure policy meets needs of ageing population

Age Action, the advocacy organisation for older people, has called for the state’s Old Age Pension to increase by €9 per week in Budget 2020. The call was made at today’s Pre-Budget Forum, which is being organised by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and is being held in Dublin Castle’s Conference Centre.

Celine Clarke, Age Action’s Head of Advocacy and Communications, said that a €9 increase in the weekly Old Age Pension would be a key step in building towards the Government’s own commitment that the pension should be set at 35% of average weekly earnings.

“The National Pensions Framework was published almost 10 years ago and it committed the Government to benchmarking the Old Age Pension at 35% of average weekly earnings. In order to move the current pension payment towards the delivery of that target, we are calling on the Government to increase the weekly pension payment by €9,” Celine Clarke said.

Ms Clarke provided additional context to Age Action’s call for a €9 per week pension rise, when she explained that in 2009, the weekly income for pensioners depending on the State – when all the benefits were added together – was €265.44, this year it’s €273.63 – only €7.89 higher than it was higher than it was 10 years ago. 

“While pensions have increased by a welcome €5 per week over the last few years, there is no clear and transparent formula informing these increases, and Ireland is also unusual in setting the pension rate in the budget every year. Age Action is urging the Government to consider applying a triple lock formula for pension increases – namely, guaranteeing that the basic State pension will rise by a minimum of either 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth, whichever is the larger.”

In addition to the proposals on pension increases, Age Action is also calling for:

  • The commissioning of research by Government on the Cost of Ageing to inform the development of policy so that the country can meet the needs of our ageing population – a similar exercise has been carried out in relation to the Cost of Disability;
  • Increase the income threshold for all means-tested benefits in line with increases to the Old Age Pension and secondary benefits;
  • Increase the Living Alone Allowance by €5 per week;
  • Increase the Fuel Allowance rate by €2.35 and reintroduce a 32-week payment period.

Pre-Budget Submission to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

ENDS

Taking Pride - celebrating diversity and inclusion

Pride Week runs from June 20th – 30th June is the festival celebrating the LGBTQI+ community. In 3 days time the Pride Parade and March will take place in Dublin on Saturday 29th June and is the culmination of 10 days highlighting the diversity and inclusion of people. Age Action values diversity, social justice and inclusivity.  As an organisation that represents all older people, this includes people who identify as LGBTQI+.

It is only 26 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in Irish law and just over 4 years since the citizens of Ireland voted for marriage equality.  Our older cohort of citizens have witnessed, and led, these changes but some have been left behind and find it difficult to live and identify as LGBTQI+. 

In the UK, a report has just been published highlighting health inequalities among older LGBT people. This builds on previous evidence which shows that older LGBT people have worse outcomes across different aspects of their lives including physical health, loneliness, social isolation, mental health, and experiences of violence. Action is needed to address these health inequalities for older LGBT people through improving the inclusivity of mainstream health and care provision, strengthening the training of health and care staff and enhancing data collection around older LGBT people and their health and care needs. The full report can be viewed at https://ilcuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ILC-Raising-the-equality-flag.pdf

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion

After the St Patrick’s Day Parade, the second biggest public event on the streets of the capital city is the Dublin’s Pride Parade. The term ‘Pride’ didn’t become popular until the early 1980’s, a tradition established following the Stonewall Riots in New York.

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community against a police raid that began on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of Manhattan.

The holding of LGBTQ+ events at the end of June was adopted very early in Dublin. In June 1974, 10 people marched from the Department of Justice on Stephen’s Green to the British Embassy to protest the criminalisation of homosexuality, a law that was a hangover from colonial times.

In March 1983, the Dublin Lesbian & Gay Collective held a protest march in response to the failure to commit to prison those convicted of the murder of Declan Flynn in Fairview Park. About 900 people marched from Liberty Hall to Fairview Park. The National LGBT Federation organised the first Dublin Pride Parade which went from Stephen’s Green to the GPO in June of that year.

In 1993 homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland with the passage of the second phase of the bill to decriminalise sexual acts between consenting adults under the Criminal Law Bill (Sexual Offences) in 1993.

Last year over 60,000 people marched in the Dublin Pride Parade. In just a generation, the annual parade and festival has grown from a handful of people to become one of the biggest and most popular events in Ireland.

More to Do

Along the way the laws and constitution of Ireland have been changed and with that the hearts and minds of many of our citizens. But there is still a long way to go.

Discrimination against older LGBTQI+ is the focus of a European funded programme in which Age Action is a participant.  For more details see www.best4older-lgbti.org

If you would like to find out more about Age Action’s work in this area of are interested in taking part in upcoming events around this topic then please make contact with our Lifelong Learning team or email billy.okeeffe@ageaction.ie directly.

Ally2Ally Campaign - LGBT Ireland are running a campaign to raise awareness of their support services.  They are asking people to 'come out' as LGBT Allies and to speak to their friends, family, colleagues and peers about how they can be a better LGBT Ally.  For more information see www.lgbt.ie

To see the full listing of  Pride events happening over the next few days go to www.dublinpride.ie

Home care needs immediate injection of ring-fenced funding of €100 million.

During 2019, over 53,000 people will receive home support services, to a total of 18.2m hours, an increase of 800,000 hours on the 2018 outturn but this is not adequate to meet the needs of people. It is now harder for over 65 year olds to access home care than it was in 2008. There are waiting lists over three months and recent figures show over 6,000 people assessed as in need of home care waiting for an initial service. Less hours per week are being spread more thinly per client with an increase in the provision of 30 minute slots of care. The current funding of home support services by the Government is inadequate and does not reflect the unmet need because people who are waiting for their first assessment are not counted. Without access to home care supports some older people are not realising their rights to housing and adequate healthcare. As a result some people are remaining in acute hospital settings or have no choice but to move to residential care settings, undermining their human right to live with dignity and independence. Age Action believes that home care supports are invaluable to help older people maintain their independence and delay or avoid long hospital stays. It is unacceptable that older people in vulnerable situations, and in particular those with low incomes, are left without needed supports due to HSE budget restrictions. Currently people who cannot access the rationed resources have to pay, if they can afford it, for private care; this is not an acceptable situation. A statutory homecare scheme, which would provide a legislative basis for equitable access to home supports across the country, is not planned until 2021. Age Action believes that a universal home care scheme is a public good and is the collective social responsibility of Government. Age Action believes that we should have a choice to age in place which means the creation of age friendly environments, including the provision of support services locally, which enable people to remain in their own homes and in communities for longer.  The absence of adequate home supports means that many people are unable to age in place. Despite the fact that it is stated Government policy (e.g. National Positive Ageing Stragetgy, Rebuilding Ireland), Government planning is inadequate at providing services to keep older people in their communities, out of nursing homes, and living with dignity and independence.ENDS

World Refugee Day

 Today, June 20th is World Refugee Day. The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018. This is the highest level that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has seen in its almost 70 years. Data from UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, released this week shows that almost 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced. To put this in perspective, this is double the level of 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a population between that of Thailand and Turkey.   Today, older refugees make up some 8.5 per cent of the overall population of concern to UNHCR, and by 2050 more of the world will be over 60 than under 12. Older refugees experience an additional burden due to their age and associated conditions. In a report published by the Centre for Policy on Ageing and Age UK, they identified that “the main issues facing older refugees and asylum seekers are low income, the language barrier, the risk of loneliness and a lack of social networks, and possibly a loss of social status”.  Reduced mobility and a high number of chronic medical conditions also greatly impact the life of an older refugee, as adequate and culturally appropriate healthcare is often difficult to access. As well, throughout their time in refugee shelters, older refugees are also more likely to experience social disintegration, the impact of negative social selection and chronic dependency on the resources of refugee shelters. According to the International Federation on Ageing “The contributions of older refugees can have far-reaching impacts on the preservation of the cultures and traditions of disposed and displaced people. The wisdom and experiences of older refugees must be harnessed through formal and informal leadership roles, to improve the welfare of all refugees”. Marion MacGregor, writing for InfoMigrants says “Older refugees can be seen as an asset, rather than simply requiring special care. In many families, it falls to them to look after children so that their parents can work….. Older people are transmitters of culture, skills and crafts that are important in preserving traditions of displaced people. The resilience of older people can help to strengthen communities and they can contribute to positive and peace-building interactions with the local host communities.”    

95 year old blogger Florence McGillicuddy is the Silver Surfer of 2019

Age Action Silver Surfer Awards Florence McGillicuddy with Ballyroan Boys NS

95-Year-Old Blogger

Receives Overall Award

At

2019 Age Action Silver Surfer Awards

Supported by DCU Age-Friendly University

 

 

 

95 year-old Florence McGillicuddy from Rathfarnham, in Dublin, is the overall Age Action Silver Surfer Award winner. Florence who blogs on GrandadOnline.com was presented with his award in recognition of his contribution to community life through his use of technology, at a ceremony this morning in Dublin City University, who co-sponsored the Awards as part of the DCU Age-Friendly University Initiative.

 

Florence, who also won the Golden IT Award as one of the older nominees, has developed a unique relationship with the children in the local Ballyroan Boys’ School over the past three years through the internet. Florence brings history to life for the young students as he researches historic facts about their city and composes the lesson in an email which the children’s teacher helps the students read. The students have learned about what life was like in Dublin when Florence was growing up and events such as what happened to Nelson’s Pillar, an airplane crash in Terenure, and he even organises school tours to cigarette factories. In turn, the children will write back to Florence in old fashioned handwritten letter format which is a wonderful display of generations coming together and learning from each other.  

 

With half of Irish people aged between 65 and 74 having never used the internet and internet use among those aged over 75 negligible, Age Action organises the Silver Surfer Awards to highlight digital literacy issues amongst older people. For those older people who do get online it has the potential to change their lives, as the Silver Surfer Awards demonstrate, with people participating in the digital economy, accessing public services, discovering new hobbies and maintaining an active role in their communities.

  

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, said: “Each nominee here today is an inspiration. They are challenging the stereotype of ageing, showing that there is no barrier you cannot overcome to life long learning as they have embraced new technologies, new ways to communicate and combat social exclusion. Access to the internet has the potential to transform lives, enabling us to keep in contact with family and old friends, or to make new ones, to explore new hobbies and interests, even empowering us to start businesses or to use our skills for the benefit of our communities. The Silver Surfers have not only transformed their own lives but, in doing so, they have shown that digital literacy is an important element of positive ageing.”

 

Professor Brian MacCraith, President DCU said: “These awards are a reminder of the hugely positive impact the internet can have on the lives of our older citizens. DCU is particularly pleased to host the tenth annual Silver Surfer Awards, as they resonate with the values of the Age Friendly University initiative, which was pioneered by DCU, and now has more than 50 member universities worldwide.”

 

Seven other awards were presented during the ceremony:

 

 

1.National Silver Surfer Award winner (and winner of the Golden IT Award)

Florence McGillicuddy 

 

Florence McGillicuddy is 95 years of age and is a blogger from Rathfarnham in Dublin publishing Grandadonline.com. Motivated by his love of history and education, he uses his IT skills to research history and record his own reflections on growing up in Dublin which he shares via email with the children in the local Ballyroan Boys’ School. Bringing history to life for the young students has made Flor an integral part of the school community and fostered a rewarding intergenerational learning experience for all.

 

2.Community Champion Award                                                                          

Margaret Culloty  

Margaret Culloty from Firies Co Kerry is 77 years of age and is the County Secretary of Kerry Community Games for the past 23 years. As the National Community Games requires that all participating children be registered online, Margaret has had to learn how to do this for over 3000 children participating in sporting and cultural events at county level.

Margaret faced this challenge with vigour and is now responsible for the coordination of the online Kerry registration system ensuring that all children are registered for their individual or team events at local and National level as well as getting a web page up and running and a Facebook account. She has been described as one in a million and didn't let new technology put her out of the position of County Secretary.

3.Hobbies on the Net

Paddy McAuliffe, Paddy Tobin and Paddy Buckley

‘The 3 Paddy’s’ from Mallow in Co. Cork have learned how to shoot and edit short films, a skill they are now using to preserve a legacy of memories for peoples’ families to be passed on to future generations. They are documenting the memories of older people in their community, editing in photos or the person’s life and locality, to produce a film. The film covers the person’s life story which can then be shared digitally with the wider community and family members.  To date they have recorded the life stories of almost 30 older people in the region.

4.Getting Started Award

Eleanor Lynch

Eleanor Lynch from Cork was profoundly deaf from the age of 40 to mid 60’s but 14 years ago, thanks to advances in medicine and technology, she had a cochlear implant operation. When she was “switched on” Eleanor had to learn how to hear again with the assistance of this new technology.  It took lots of perseverance, but she mastered it and can now communicate fairly easily. After she mastered the implant technology, she had the confidence to learn how to use a mobile phone and now uses a smart phone like a teenager! The laptop has made living alone a lot easier as she does her all banking and pays all her bills online and does not have to go out on wet cold days. Technology and her own bravery and determination has made an amazing difference to Eleanor’s life. 

5.IT Tutor of the Year Award

Sr. Margaret Kiely   

Sr. Margaret is a Sister of Mercy who worked as a principal nurse tutor for 14 years at the Mercy Hospital in Cork.   Following this she trained as an addiction counsellor in MN, USA. She founded Tabor Lodge - a treatment centre in Cork for persons with alcohol, drug and gambling addictions and it was here that she first saw the need for a computerised system.   Following a few lessons she mastered the PC.   Sr. Margaret observed that a number of staff and residents were struggling using smart phones and computers. She sourced funding for a tutor and initially she ran 10 four-week classes with 8 students per class. She is now a volunteer tutor with Age Action and manages the attendance records and presents certificates at the end of the courses.

6.School IT Tutor of the Year Award

Bandon Grammar School  

The students of the Transition Year class in Bandon Grammar School have been tutoring older learners how to get online. At every lesson, the young TY students teach their older learners something new from how to use Google Maps to downloading music, looking up Government websites which are all sites of great relevance and interest to the learners.

The intergenerational nature of the class creates an energetic atmosphere in which to learn. People have remarked that the school break-time is a favourite where the older learners and younger tutors engage in conversation and swap stories.

Raising the Roof - Homes for All Ages

Raise the Roof Rally for Housing 18 May

Preparing to Raise the Roof

Age Action, motivated by intergenerational solidarity, is joining the Raise the Roof campaign to tackle the continuing housing crisis that is affecting people of all ages.  People are being mobilised through trade unions and community organisations, to stage a major national rally on the housing crisis under the banner of Raise the Roof, in Dublin on Saturday May 18.

When people take an interest in what is happening in their local community, seek solutions to problems and initiate improvements they are being active citizens. Community is the foundational building block of society and housing is fundamental to community. Ireland’s housing crisis is rightly dominating public discourse as it undermines our ability to live with dignity as part of a community.  Ireland’s changing demographic brings with it a changing demand for homes that meet the needs of an ageing population.

The Government’s failure to deliver on a whole of Government approach to ageing and provide good quality social housing to meet demand has resulted in older people feeling subjected to negative, ageist language about their needs and wishes for suitable housing and health supports as is evidenced in the narrative on ‘down-sizing’ or ‘right-sizing’.

In the 60s and 70s the State implemented policies to support owner occupation of housing. People on lower incomes were able to buy their own homes which went some way to addressing wealth inequalities. According to Professor Tony Fahey, writing in Social Justice Ireland’s book ‘From Here to Where?’, by the year 2000 even low-income households owned substantial housing wealth and were less disadvantaged by inequalities in housing wealth than they were by inequalities in income.

Most of the growing population of young private renters today grew up in homes that were owned by their parents. Prof Fahey identified the essential features of secure long-term housing as being affordable, and having secure tenure. As he says, “today’s private rented housing has neither of these features”.

Looking at the future needs of an ageing population, for those aged 50-54 almost 10% were renting from private landlords at the time of Census 2016. It can be assumed that these people will continue in the rental market beyond their working years which leaves them in a vulnerable situation.

We encourage any and all of you who can to be active citizens and march with us on Saturday May 18 in a show of intergenerational solidarity. We will be gathering at 1pm at Parnell Square. You will find us behind an Age Action banner. At 2pm we will march down O'Connell Street towards Custom House Quay and join the Rally for Housing (location to be confirmed) by 3pm.

For more information about the campaign visit www.raisetheroof.ie

 

 

Taking Better Care - CCPC issues Guidelines on Nursing Home Contracts of Care

Age Action welcomes the publication of the Unfair Terms Guidelines for contracts of care in nursing homes by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

The CCPC guidelines, published on 7 May,  are a first step in improving transparency, clarity and certainty for consumers. The guidelines will help people to know their rights under consumer law and to begin a dialogue with a nursing home in cases where there is a concern regarding the fairness of the contractare. The guidelines inform nursing home providers of their obligations and responsibilities under consumer protection law in terms of the provision and cost of additional services in nursing homes such as social activities. The guidelines have legal status under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2007 and will help both providers and consumers understand their responsibilities and rights.

The decision to move into a nursing home is a significant one that is often made with urgency and in stressful circumstances. Age Action has been aware of, and concerned at, the unclear position of some nursing home residents and their relatives who are unsure what services and charges they are legally bound to pay for. Complaints continue to come to us where residents and families are unhappy being charged for services they do not need or use. Age Action has been actively working on this issue since 2017 when it published a briefing paper Regulating Nursing Home Charges. Understanding that the nursing home provider is entitled to charge for additional services that it provides beyond those covered by the NHSS, Age Action highlighted the fact that the amounts being charged, the transparency of the system and, in some cases, the dubious legality of the charge can cause serious problems for nursing home residents and their families. Charges are normally set out in the resident’s contract for care but there was nothing to prevent the nursing home from altering the contract once the resident is in place and imposing additional charges, which can be stressful for residents and their families.

The CCPC will send a copy of the guidelines to all nursing home owners this week and a booklet is available for consumers on the CCPC website. The CCPC website has a dedicated information section where a consumer booklet, standard template letter to help people initiate a dialogue and or complaint against a nursing home and a sample letter that can be used as a guide can be found.

 

ENDS

Easter Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Easter Raffle and a heartfelt thank you to all who supported the raffle!

Easter Raffle 2019 Winners

1st Prize €1500
P Dunne
Dun Laoghaire

2nd Prize €1000
C Gordon
Dublin 12

3rd Prize €500
E Byrne
Portlaoise

Sellers €100
K O’Sullivan
Dublin 16

 

Age Action Welcomes the launch of the Housing Options for our Ageing Population Policy Statement

Responding to today’s launch of the Housing Options for our Ageing Population Policy Statement, Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation  said;

“This is a welcome joint initiative by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Health because it begins to address the needs of our ageing population in terms of ageing in place.  The commitment to provide real choice to people through a catalogue of housing with supports is welcome, especially the recognition that an ageing population has diverse needs.”

He continued “Age Action believes that we should have a choice to age in place which means the creation of age friendly environments, including the provision of support services locally, which enable people to remain in their own homes and in communities for longer. The wider support needs of people as we age was to be addressed through the National Positive Ageing Strategy which was published in 2013 and is yet to be implemented.”

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