Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, TD, has today welcomed the renewed commitment under the Housing for All: A New Housing Plan for Ireland to improve housing options for older people.
The new 5-year plan which seeks to address key issues in housing, in particular cost and supply, includes specific actions to meet the particular housing needs of our older population, both in terms of social housing and overall housing delivery.
Minister Butler said: “Housing for All provides a valuable framework to further progress the Programme for Government commitment to support older people to live in their own home with dignity and independence, for as long as possible”.
The plan sets out that current and projected need for housing among our older people should be met through clear, target driven local authority delivery action plans and housing strategies. Additional actions include to guide and inform enhanced design and construction of age friendly and universally designed homes and to review existing grant programmes to assist older people to live independently.
Minister Butler continued: “the action within the plan to pilot innovative forms of housing options to facilitate ageing in place and rightsizing is welcome. It is of course of the utmost importance that the voice of the older person is at the centre of any decision to rightsize and their choice in where and who they wish to live with must take precedence”.
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, otherwise known as Fair Deal, will also be reformed to remove disincentives to sale or rental of homes left vacant by people in residential care, while ensuring those measures are targeted, equitable and have all the appropriate safeguards in place. The action to remove a disincentive to selling a vacant home has already been incorporated into the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Act, which was signed into law in July. This is an early success for the Housing for All Plan achieved through coordination between the Departments for Health and Housing.
Minister Butler commented on the commitment within Housing for All to meet the housing needs of people with disabilities, including individuals with mental health difficulties: “The publication of a new National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability by the end of 2021, that seeks to enhance access to housing and related support services through enhanced coordination between housing, health and social care is hugely welcome. The promotion of equality of opportunity, individual choice and independent living must be delivered for all individuals with mental health difficulties”.