Age Friendly Housing Specialists advise local government on how to improve housing options for older residents.
AN AGEING POPULATION PRESENTS NEW HOUSING CHALLENGES
This initiative was put in place to prepare for population ageing. The initiative is a direct action arising from the ‘Housing Options for our Ageing Population’ policy statement, published jointly in Ireland by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and Department of Health in 2019.
SPECIALISTS ADVISE LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Across Irish local authorities, Age Friendly Housing Technical Specialists offer a service that ensures that older people have greater choice by developing a range of housing options that are suited to their needs. In as far as possible, the aim is to make the right homes available for older people in society. The Age Friendly Housing Specialists act as the key points of contact for technical queries, specifically around designing for life and universal design principles. They progress referrals from a range of actors, including local authority staff, external stakeholders and agencies, private sector developers, Approved Housing Bodies, social housing tenants, and private homeowners who are interested in rightsizing. Meath County Council facilitates the Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service across Irish local government. Participants whose needs are being addressed include older people with physical, cognitive and sensory issues, including people with dementia, live-in carers, social housing tenants, private homeowners wishing to rightsize, rural and urban dwellers, minority groups, and people who need housing that is adapted to meet their needs because of their age.
AGE-FRIENDLY HOUSING SOLUTIONS ARE DEVELOPED
This is the first time that a dedicated technical role has been assigned in Irish local authorities to support the specific housing needs of older people. The national Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service network allows local authorities to share learning with each other about good practice. The Age Friendly Housing Technical Specialists are helping to develop housing that is suitable for older people in order to prepare for population ageing. The state also achieves cost savings by reducing the need to transition to residential care, which typically costs EUR 60,000 per year, three times as much as the equivalent care at home. This project therefore contributes to developing sustainable communities in the future.
“Demographics in Ireland are changing rapidly. In just over 20 years 22% of our population will be over 65 years old. The numbers over 80 will quadruple in that period. Thirteen per cent of the general population has a disability and one third of older people have a disability. Older people require supportive and enabling living environments to compensate for physical and social changes associated with ageing. Under the ‘Housing Options for our Ageing Population’ national policy statement, local authorities across Ireland assigned an Age Friendly Housing Specialist to help prepare housing that is suitable for older people. These staff are contributing to significant change in housing provision for the ageing population. When homes are designed in such a way that they can be adapted to cater for the particular way a person ages it facilitates remaining in one’s own community for the maximum possible time.”