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Progress on efforts to implement a human-rights based approach to health and social care

Age Action welcomes today’s publication of the ‘Guidance on a Human Rights-based Approach in Health and Social Care Services’ published today by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in conjunction with Safeguarding Ireland.

Age Action supports a rights-based approach which empowers people to know and claim their rights. If people know and claim their rights in how they decide what health and social care services they wish to receive, this will in turn impact the quality of health and social care services as providers will be held to account to higher standards of person-centred care.

In addition to existing HIQA standards, today’s publication is a welcome resource to assist both service users and staff and organisations working with adults across health and social care services to understand how human rights principles apply in health and social care services on a day-to-day basis.

We are pleased to see that the publication includes discussion on the complex situations that occur in practice where many factors need to be considered, such as balancing an individual’s will and preferences, and – at times – competing human rights. We hope to see a better understanding across health and social care services of how to uphold human rights, and better guidance for staff in practice in overcoming the challenges that arise when the organisational protocols are seemingly at odds with a rights-based approach e.g. options for transgender people in single sex residential units.

Age Action remains disappointed that significant legislative and policy gaps continue to exist in the area. While enacted, the new Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will not be commenced until Q4 2020. Key elements which should be fast-tracked for commencement include: Arrangements for the making of Enduring Powers of Attorney; a legal framework for Advance Healthcare Directives. In addition, related legislation on the deprivation of liberty - which will provide safeguards for people living in or going to live in residential settings – has also seen delays in its progress into law.

An Adult Safeguarding Bill has been in development since 2017 to replace or cover out of date or non-existent legislation in the area. When underpinned by a regulatory framework for adult safeguarding, this will provide for the protection of at risk adults and statutory powers to ensure adherence.

The expedition of these legislative and resulting policy changes will ensure that rights, freedoms and dignity of people are promoted and protected.

ENDS

 

My Legacy Month

My Legacy Month is an initiative for the month of November during which My Legacy and their 65 member charities ask the public to consider leaving a legacy gift in their will to a charity they care about. But what exactly is this? It is simply a gift, something that you can give after you have made provisions for loved ones or family members in your will.

 

At Age Action we recognise that every legacy gift we receive means that we have been remembered by someone in their will and so it is particularly meaningful to us. We welcome the financial benefit, which helps us continue and develop existing services or can kick start innovative new initiatives, but more importantly the gift is evidence that the person believes that we have, or can, make a positive difference in the lives older people in Ireland.

 

One of the largest legacies Age Action received, to date, was just over €100,000 which helped us strengthen our Care and Repair service to provide practical support and social contact to older people with the aim of helping them to remain living in their own homes, for longer, in increased safety and comfort. Age Action understands that as people get older, maintaining their home can become more difficult, particularly if they are experiencing mobility issues. Simply changing a lightbulb or weeding the garden can be challenging and paying someone to do it can be expensive for people who depend on the State Pension. 

 

We also receive regular smaller legacy gifts, which are just as important and meaningful to us and highlight that anyone can plan to include a cause close to their heart, like Age Action, in their will regardless of the size of their estate.

 

Caroline O’Connell, Head of Fundraising at Age Action says “Leaving a legacy gift to Age Action means that we can continue to make a difference for Ireland’s ageing population, in your memory.”

 

To find out more about My Legacy including how to make a will to ensure that your wishes are carried out you can visit mylegacy.ie or if you want to talk about how your legacy gift could make a difference to Age Action you can contact Caroline at headoffundraising@ageaction.ie.

Did Budget 2020 Take Steps Towards a Fairer Society for an Ageing Population?

 

The Government's Budget 2020 choices did not include measures to address the inequalities faced by older people living in Ireland who are family members and contributors to our communities. Budget 2020 did not offer the majority of older people the support they need to meet the rising cost of living that is anticipated by the impacts of Brexit and it did not offer a concrete plan to support us to age in place.

 

Equality for older people requires the re-distribution of resources; power and influence; status and standing; and respect.  While the Government has increased some secondary benefits with the view to targeting people in the most vulnerable situations, which is a sensible approach, it has to be acknowledged that if people had adequate income to meet the true cost of ageing, they would be able to have choice over how to spend their money to best meet their specific needs.

The net affect of Budget 2020 on the income of older person headed households is;

  • Those under 80 and living with another person are €1.08 better off per week following Budget 2020 and have seen a weekly increase of €11.68 since 2009

 

  • For those under 80 and living alone, they are €6.08 better off per week following Budget 2020, and have seen a weekly increase of €20.48 on 2009 income

 

  • For those over 80 and living with another person, their weekly income has risen by €1.08 in Budget 2020, and €11.68 since 2009

 

  • For those over 80 and living alone, they are better off by €6.08 per week following Budget 2020, and €20.48 since 2009.

 

Some people who are over 80 are people in the most vulnerable situations in our society with no capacity to increase their income while dealing with the increasing cost of ageing. A person over 80, not living alone, received €1.08 per week to cope with Brexit, the carbon tax increase and the rising cost of living in 2020. It is on the backs of these people that our economy has been built: these are the same women and men who lived through the Marriage Bar, shouldered several recessions and are now dealing with the accumulated disadvantages. In working for equality, it is critical that we focus on equality of outcomes not just equality of opportunity.

AGE ACTION CRITICISES GOVERNMENT FOR BEING CONTENT TO KEEP OLDER PEOPLE HOVERING ON POVERTY LINE

AGE ACTION CRITICISES GOVERNMENT FOR BEING CONTENT TO KEEP OLDER PEOPLE HOVERING ON POVERTY LINE

Failure to increase pensions contradicts Government’s commitments under National Pensions Framework

Reducing tax breaks for private pensions could have allowed Government to tackle significant income inequality among older people

Age Action CEO, Paddy Connolly, says that older people will be disappointed but probably not surprised by the Government’s failure to increase the Old Age Pension for 2020. Mr Connolly said that the tone of the Government’s message to older people in the lead up to the Budget has been that they shouldn’t expect much by way of income improvements. However, Paddy Connolly welcomed the Budget measures to tackle income inequalities in childhood which he said would help protect against the accumulation of disadvantage later in life for future generations of older people.

“The Government’s own National Pensions Framework committed it to benchmarking the State Pension at 35% of average weekly earnings. In order to move the current pension payment towards the delivery of that target, Age Action called on the Government to increase the weekly pension payment by €9.

“What’s most disappointing is that this increase was eminently achievable – at no extra cost to the State – by reducing the tax breaks on private pensions to 33%, as proposed by the National Pensions Framework. Reducing these tax breaks would not alone provide the funds for significant increases for all pensioners, it would also help to reduce the massive income inequality that exists amongst older people,” Paddy Connolly said.

Mr Connolly welcomed the increase in the Living Alone Allowance, rise in the Medical Card income thresholds for over 70s as well as increases in some secondary benefits but questioned whether older people would see any real net benefit in their pockets particularly because of rising fuel prices. He also challenged the Government to commission research on the cost of ageing to establish the true costs of growing old in Ireland.

Paddy Connolly welcomed the commitment to increase spending on home support provision and called on the Government to expedite home care legislation.

“The vast majority of older people wish to spend their later years in their own home, close to family and community, and not to be forced into nursing homes due to a shortage of home care packages. In this context, we welcome the Government’s commitment to provide an additional one million hours for home care. However, it’s vital that the promise of home care legislation by 2021 is delivered upon,” Age Action’s Paddy Connolly concluded.

ENDS

The Home Care Coalition seeks €110m funding for Home Supports ahead of Budget 2020

 

Coalition urges action in report ‘Experiences from the Grassroots’, as waiting list for Home Supports Service increases to 7,348 people

The Home Care Coalition, a group of 22 charities and not-for-profit organisations of which Age Action is a member, released a report highlighting the challenges faced by older people and people with disabilities when accessing essential home care services on 4 October. The Coalition is seeking an investment of €110 million in Budget 2020 to provide the necessary levels of support for people who are already receiving home support services and to meet the growing demand for new home care packages, with recent reports indicating that the waiting list has increased to 7,346 people.

The report, ‘Experiences from the Grassroots’, highlights experiences of delayed discharges and lengthy waiting lists seen by member organisations, including cases of older people and people with life-limiting illnesses remaining in hospitals for months longer than medically necessary due to lack of home care supports. This is despite reports that priority for home supports is being given to people in acute hospitals to enable them to be discharged, as a shortage of home supports services directly contributes to a lack of available hospital beds.

The Coalition highlights that although there have been numerous reassurances that access to home care has not been frozen, this is not reflective of their experiences on the ground, with one organisation highlighting a case in which the family of an older woman were told not to bother applying home care as they would not get it due to the length of the waiting list, and another being told in number of regions they were not allowed to use the word ‘embargo’.
Members of the Coalition range from NGOs working with older people and people with disabilities and long-term illnesses, to organisations working directly with carers, to groups working in the primary care sector.

“It is unacceptable that no action is being taken as we simply watch the waiting list for home supports continue to rise,” said a spokesperson for the Coalition, ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “We have seen in recent weeks that there was a record number of delayed discharges this summer when 769 people remained in hospitals nationwide who did not need to be there, many of whom were waiting for step down support services. Meanwhile we know that in some areas there is simply no funding for new home supports packages. Explanations that the HSE do not want to overrun their budget are simply not good enough when there are thousands of people on waiting lists unable to access the services they need.”

As well as challenges in accessing home supports, the Coalition note that the service itself is under-resourced and that issues remain with the quality of the service provided. Issues faced by the older people and people with disabilities when accessing home care services include insufficient staff training, under-resourcing of home care staff, insufficient standards and quality systems, inadequate safeguarding and monitoring, and inconsistencies across areas in terms of prioritisation, access and assessment processes.  

The underresourcing of the home supports service affects more than the person who needs home care; it impacts their families, home care workers, and the health system at large. The lack of clarity regarding the legal obligation of the State to provide care to older people and people with disabilities, as well as a lack of qualified home care workers, has put pressure on family members to take on the role of carer. Home care workers themselves are overstretched, while family carers find the services available inadequate to meet their needs.

It is vital that the budget for the Home Supports Service is increased in line with demand by €110 million this year. We recognise that the Department of Health is working on a new statutory scheme for home care which the Coalition is contributing to, and we hope that the new scheme will solve some of the challenges that people who are in need are experiencing every day with the home supports service. The scheme will represent a vital part of Sláintecare and we support its implementation. However, older people, people with disabilities, and their families, can’t put care off until the new scheme is introduced.

 

On United Nations International Day of Older Persons Age Action CEO writes Society Must Collectively Tackle Inequality Facing Older People

Writing in the Irish Examiner on International Day of Older Persons, Paddy Connolly says we need to challenge our view of ageing and overcome the structural barriers to equality for all ages 

ONE of the clearest signs of how much progress we’ve made as a society since Independence is the massive increase in life expectancy. In 1916, average life expectancy was 53 years, now, more than 100 years later, average life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years to 81.61 years — a tremendous achievement.

To reap the benefits of this demographic bounty, we, as a society, need to challenge our view of ageing and overcome the structural barriers to equality for all ages.

To continue reading the op-ed visit Irish Examiner here 

Accumulated Disadvantage Extends into Retirement

The ESRI report published today, 1 October 2019, ‘The ageing workforce in Ireland: working conditions, health and extending working lives’ shows that accumulated disadvantages seen throughout the working life are evident – and often exacerbated – well into retirement, particularly for women and those working in physically demanding roles.

The report notes an increased level of people over 55 years old working in Ireland (up from 10% in 1998 to 20% in 2018), which is well above the OECD average. However, there is wide variance in who is remaining working for longer, and whether that is for choice or necessity. Almost 7% of those aged 55-59 left employment early due to family care, with women five times more likely to have left paid employment early for care duty reasons. Today, one in ten people is a carer in Ireland, with 61% of carers being women. The State needs to value unpaid work and ensures that structural barriers to working, while balancing caring duties, are addressed in order to mitigate against accumulated disadvantage when people, and women in particular, become eligible for a pension.

Additional research published today is an Irish Life report which also notes the impact on women of disrupted labour patterns within the existing pay gap. The report shows that women have an average of 22% less – or €120,000 – in their pension pot at retirement compared to men. This is true even in cases where women are making the same pension contributions as men, and likely reflects the existing gender pay gap and lower wages earned by women.

Simply, the current employment disadvantages will transfer into pension disadvantages. In the context of rising State pension ages, targeted efforts are needed. Government and industry efforts are urgently needed to address the structural barriers that impede women, parents and carers to remain in, or return to, the labour market, if that is their choice.  Measures such as flexible working approaches and hours, targeted employment training interventions and reskilling are some such measures. These will only work in conjunction with the availability of affordable and secure childcare as well as sufficient home care hours available under a statutory scheme.

The journey to equality in older age begins at an earlier age. Both these reports are evidence that disadvantages in our working lives extend into the range of choices available to us all in older age, including access to employment as well as adequate income security.

 

 

Age Action Announces its First In-store Information Clinic as it Joins the Community of Newbridge with the Official Opening of Store Number 8

On Thursday 26th September Newbridge became the official home of Age Action’s newest retail store reflecting the growing presence of the organisation in communities around Ireland.

Age Action’s chain of retail stores play an important role in the organisation’s strategic goal to support people to age in place; not only do the stores provide income to support the work of Age Action but they offer services such as free stock collection and house clearances as well as being a presence in communities where people can gather to listen and learn from each other about what it is like to age in Ireland.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said “All eight of our stores function as places where people can contact Age Action to find out about our advocacy work and our services. We want our stores to be closely aligned with our work to support and advocate for equality and human rights of all older people and so we are excited to announce Age Action’s first pop-up information clinic which will be held on the first Wednesday of the month in our Newbridge store”.

Hundreds of Events Organised to mark Positive Ageing Week 30 September to 6 October - Ageing in Place

Positive Ageing Week 2019 30 September to 6 October

At Age Action one of our flagship events is Positive Ageing Week (PAW) which celebrates ageing and the contribution and agency of older people. It takes place this year from Sun 30th Sept – Sat 6th October 2019.  Ageing in Place is the theme for PAW 2019 which is about ensuring that people having choice and control over where and how they age; central to achieving this goal is the creation of age friendly environments, including support services, which enable people to remain in their own homes and communities for longer.

This year, Age Action is transforming its shop, on Camden Street in Dublin, into the first Positive Ageing Hub with speakers and events open to the public which will encourage dialogue on what it means to grow old in Ireland and what policies and practices are required to help us to age in place.

During Positive Ageing Week we celebrate United Nations International Day of Older Persons on 1 October which this year focuses on the Journey to Equality. The 2019 theme is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 and will focus on pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality.  SDG 10 sets to reduce inequality within and among countries and aims to “ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome,” including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to “empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.”

In addition to the Positive Ageing Hub, over 100 events are being organised at local level by Active Retirement Groups; Nursing Homes; Community Resource Centres; Sports Partnerships; County Councils; Care Organisations; Libraries; Theatres, Galleries, Museums, Schools; Clubs, Societies and Associations for older people. You can find an event near you by checking positiveageingweek.com

 

A Fair Society for All? Listening to the Voices of Older People

Often, inequalities experienced by older people reflect an accumulated disadvantage which can be as a result of factors such as socio-economic status, health, gender, location. How existing inequalities impact on us as we age is something we in Age Action explored through a panel discussion 10 September – A Fair Society For All? Listening to the Voice of Older People – in Croke Park, on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting 2019.

An audience of over 160 people, including members of Age Action and people working in the ageing sector, joined the conversatoin which included a panel disucssion moderated by the CEO Paddy Connolly. The discussion centred on a discussion paper, Equality for All - Older People for Equality, published by Age Action in advance.The  panel set the scene with inputs from Michael Taft, Economist and political economy columnist, Colette Bennett, Policy Analyst Social Justice Ireland, Deirdre Garvey, CEO The Wheel, Ailbhe Smith, Co-Director of Together for Yes.

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