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Input into the Nursing Home Expert Panel on perspectives and experiences in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic

Published 17/06/2020

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(17 June) The Alliance of Age Sector NGOs, represented by Age Action, is meeting with the Nursing Home Expert Panel to communicate perspectives and experiences in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on nursing homes, with a particular focus on planning the further responses to nursing homes’ needs over the next 18 months.  National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), chaired by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, was established in January. It has been providing direction, guidance, support and expert advice on the development and implementation of Ireland’s strategic response to the pandemic. The Panel is due to report to the Minister for Health by end June 2020 and is has undertaken a public consultation details of which are available here.

The Alliance of Age Sector NGOs, represented by Age Action, is meeting with the Nursing Home Expert Panel to communicate perspectives and experiences in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on nursing homes, with a particular focus on planning the further responses to nursing homes’ needs over the next 18 months.  National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), chaired by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, was established in January. It has been providing direction, guidance, support and expert advice on the development and implementation of Ireland’s strategic response to the pandemic. The Panel is due to report to the Minister for Health by end June 2020 and is has undertaken a public consultation details of which are available here https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/5f703-nphet-covid-19-subgroup-nursing-homes-expert-panel/consultation

The Alliance will raise 4 key recommendations it believes the Panel need to consider:

  • In order to learn lessons and build trust, the circumstances of each and every death in residential care settings during COVID-19 should be independently reviewed.
  • A rights-based approach to care in Ireland requires action to fund and legislate for the right to care as the means to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for older people.
  • To strengthen the sector and provide an equitable standard of care, an independent review of the governance, oversight and enforcement mechanisms within the nursing homes sector – public, private and non-profit – should take place.
  • To enable the participation of older people to harness their knowledge and ensure their full inclusion in shaping the policies that affect their lives and also broaden partnership with civil society and others.

The Alliance strongly belives that the experiences of older people during COVID-19 must shape future policy responses and as shared the presentation time allocated by the Nursing Home Expert Panel with a family member of a resident of a nursing home so they could put forward their lived experience.

 

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Age Action is calling for a Digital Allowance to support the Digital Inclusion of Older People and a Study on the Cost of Ageing in Budget 2021

(30 July 2020) 

Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation on ageing and older people is calling for Budget 2021 to include a digital allowance in the form of a €2.50 increase to the Telephone Support Allowance and a broadening of the eligibility criteria to support older people to access digital technology.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said ‘Digital exclusion is a reality for at least 33% of people over the age of 65 with the associated cost being one of the barriers to access for older people. We know that communication costs have increased during COVID-19 as people became more reliant on digital communications as a means of communicating with family, health professionals, arranging essential services and addressing social isolation.  In the context of an increasing reliance on telehealth measures and public health advice, Age Action urges the Government to increase the Telephone Support Allowance, introduced in June 2018 at a weekly rate of €2.50, to €5 and for a broadening of the eligibility criteria which is narrowly confined to those getting the Living Alone Allowance who are also eligible for the Fuel Allowance.’

Government services now actively prefer transactions to be digital under a “Digital First”approach, encouraging people to carry out their tax returns, and apply to r enew their driving licences and passports online. The Public Service ICT Strategy prioritises the digitisation of ‘the main existing citizen and business transactional services across Public Services’. There is an increasing reliance on digital channels to provide information by both the public and private sector which undermines people’s ability to access information which was very evident during the height of the pandemic. In a recent CSO survey of households of those over 60 and not online, the second greatest challenge to people who said they needed access to broadband, after lack of digital skills, was the perceived prohibitive cost.

‘Older people are being left behind because they do not have adequate access or skills to engage with digital services or participate in the digital economy; providing a digital allowance as well as investing in one-to-one digital literacy training that meets the needs of older people, is critical to bridging the digital divide. The new National Digital Skills Strategy committed to under the Programme for Government will have budgetary implications; Budget 2021 should begin to support older people to keep up’ Connolly said.