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Age Action urges HSE to reverse smoke free campus policy for public nursing homes

Published 05/03/2014

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Age Action has urged the HSE to reverse its decision to introduce a smoke free campus policy to all public nursing homes and psychiatric facilities in the Midlands.

“These facilities have been, and continue to be,  exempt from the 2003 smoking legislation, and the HSE’s decision to voluntarily  impose the ban on residential facilities for older people will cause unnecessary hardship for residents,” Age Action spokesperson Eamon Timmins said.

Age Action does not condone smoking and strongly supports measures which help smokers quit.  However, it believes the new ban will result in some older people experiencing undue hardship.

“There were good  reasons why nursing homes and psychiatric facilities were exempt from the original smoking ban, and these reasons have not changed,” Mr Timmins said.  “The benefits of forcing these older people to cease smoking must be balanced against the hardship it will cause for older people who have smoked for many years and some of whom have dementia and other psychiatric conditions.  For those who wish to continue smoking, it will involve in them having to be accompanied off site to smoke, with the resultant strain on already scarce resources.”

Age Action stressed that nursing homes were first and foremost homes for their residents.  “While we accept that smoking is damaging to a person’s health, up to now nursing home residents have been accommodated with smoking rooms or designated outdoor areas, enabling people to smoke as they would if they were at home,” Mr Timmins said.

“The HSE’s decision to introduce its smoke free campus policy to all HSE sites in the midlands from today is a marked change in this approach and will force smokers to leave the campus to smoke, and to be accompanied by staff to ensure their safety.  For frail and vulnerable people this is not a satisfactory situation and the decision must be reversed as a matter of urgency.”

The HSE plans to extend the smoke free campus policy to all HSE sites by 2015.

 

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Pension Inequality Firmly on the Election 2020 Campaign Agenda

Age Action joined the SIPTU led coalition of non-governmental organisations for the launch of the STOP67 campaign in Dublin today (Thursday, 23rd January) which aims to halt the increase of the state pension age for workers to 67 from next year in order to address inequalities in the pension system.

Speaking at the formal campaign launch in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, said: “STOP67 is the SIPTU campaign to stop the increase of the state pension age to 67 on 1st January, 2021.

“SIPTU representatives are not surprised this is a major general election issue. We have been hearing from our members since the abolition of the transitional pension scheme in 2014 about the difficulties that the retirement gap has been causing for workers. This includes the absolute indignity of people coming up to 65 years of age who are expecting to get their pension and having to sign on the dole.”

National Women’s Council of Ireland Director, Orla O’Connor, said: “This is a core issue for women. Women rely on the state pension for the vast majority of their income in older age. So, anything that impacts on state pensions disproportionally impacts on women.”

Age Action Chief Executive, Paddy Connolly, said: “This campaign is not only about stopping the rise of the pension age to 67 but also the creation of a stakeholder forum which will consider issues such as finances, age discrimination and others that effect people in their retirement.”

Active Retirement Ireland chief executive, Maureen Kavanagh, said: “Ireland has the youngest population but the highest prospective retirement age in the EU. We are not under the demographic pressure of other countries. Retirement is a great part of life but it has to be voluntary, flexible and appropriate. We can’t force people out of a job that they love, or to stay in their job.”

SIPTU General Secretary, Joe Cunningham, called on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to make clear their position on the pensions issue.

He added: “All the other political parties are supporting the ‘STOP67’ campaign. The big two parties must make their position clear.”