(10 May 2022) Age Action will address the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage on Planning: on the Provision of housing for older people, including Fair Deal on 10 May, where they will advocate for a package of safeguarding measures to be put in place to protect older people living in nursing homes as well as reforms to allow 100% of rental income on the person's primary residence to be disregarded by the HSE under the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal).
Unmet Housing Need
Age Action’s core concern is for all older persons to have choice and control over where and how they live. Planning, housing standards and housing supports all play a huge role in determining people’s quality of life as they age. Age Action advocates for a rights-based approach to housing and planning that is built around the core aim of empowering people to age in place and to access all of the shops and services they need to live independently. A right to adequate housing is not just about general principles but also active measures to address the needs of those furthest behind, and to ensure equality of outcome.
In remarks to the Committee Age Action listed 5 areas of unmet need in the context of the provision of older persons housing;
- Barriers to older people ageing in place including lack of physical accessibility around the home, lack of transport (especially if people lose the ability to drive), and problems securing home care support.
- Lack of access to credit by older persons who wish to 'right size'
- The lack of suitable housing available within the community to facilitate a person 'right sizing'
- Excessive costs of maintaing the home including retroftting and adaptation
- Inability to afford housing at current market rates.
Fair Deal Reform
Age Action welcomes efforts to reform the Fair Deal scheme and wishes to support measures that address inequalities experienced by older people. However, Age Action will tell the Committee that it has concerns about the the proposal to reduce to 40% the proportion of rental income from a person’s primary residence that must be paid to the HSE when they are in nursing home care funded under scheme.
Age Action will raise potential safeguarding issues and question whether or not the requirement to give the HSE 40% of the rental income is a sufficient mitigating factor. Age Action is also concerned that requiring 40% of the rental income to be paid to the HSE puts unfair limits on residents of nursing homes who may wish to become landlords compared to other landlords in the market.
Age Action is calling for a package of safeguarding measures to be in place before the implementation of changes to the Fair Deal Scheme including:
- Full commencement of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, and the enactment of the proposed amendment of 2022.
- Fully operational Decision Support Service
- Enactment of Adult Safeguarding Legislation
- Expansion of the legal concept of coercive control beyond intimate relationships to include the coercive control of another person as a crime in any close adult relationship or setting.
In addition, Age Action strongly supports efforts to accelerate the statutory homecare scheme so that a greater number of older persons would have the option of remaining in their homes for longer, which is almost always their preference and will.