Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications Michael Moynihan TD has expressed concern about proposed changes to the Seniors Alert Scheme, which will see a national tendering process for the supply and installation of personal monitored alarms as well as a range of other measures centred on the operation of the scheme.

The Senior Alert Scheme provides assurance, confidence and independence to thousands of older people who want to continue living in their own homes, through a personalised alarm system.

Deputy Moynihan commented, “I have serious reservations about the centralisation of this important scheme, which will essentially see the monitoring and rollout of this resource taken out of the hands of community groups and handed over to an outside company.  This would mark a significant departure from the existing programme, which allows community groups to support the needs of their elderly relatives, friends and neighbours through regular contact and visits.

“These are some of the most vulnerable people in our society, who have faith and confidence in a system which has served them well.  The changes that are proposed, including a new online application system and a centralised financial management service, has unnerved and unsettled many of the SAS users and their families.  Despite attempts by the Department of the Environment to clarify the situation there are a series of questions that remain unanswered.

“The national tender will change the structure of the current system, and could see community volunteers removed from the decision-making process for choosing an alarm company.  If we see significant changes in the providers it will raise concerns about cost increases, equipment maintenance and customer service issues.

“I have written to Minister Alan Kelly raising all of these issues and calling for clarity.  Thousands of older people, some of whom are highly dependent on the SAS, will be affected by any changes to the current system.  They need to be given peace of mind that their service will still be of the same high standard and that they will be able to maintain contact with the community volunteers who act as a support for them.  The system has been highly efficient and cost-effective and should not be changed without serious consideration and discussion.  There has been a lack of consultation to date and I would urge Minister Kelly to rectify this situation before proceeding with any measures which could prove detrimental the success of scheme”.