“No effort by Minister to expand support for Senior Alert Scheme despite low uptake,” Mattie McGrath
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has again written to the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Catherine Byrne, to urge her to expand the provision of Pendant Alarms to the elderly, particularly those in rural Ireland. Deputy McGrath went on to say that no public awareness work of any kind has been done since May when the Minister first revealed to him in a reply to a Dáil Question that €800,000 earmarked for the Senior Alert Scheme, a third of the total allocation, was not spent last year:
“The events in this last week with several people being jailed for vicious attacks on the elderly have once again highlighted the brutal and unpredictable threats that many older people in rural Ireland are being exposed too.
Despite these high profile sentencing cases and the huge media coverage, not one thing appears to have been done by the Minister to increase uptake of the Senior Alert Scheme.
We should not forget however that it was the Fine Gael/Labour government of 2013 that introduced savage cuts to a host of support services for the elderly including the free landline service
That move directly affected the safety and well-being of many thousands of elderly people who had come to rely on the free landline phone use as an essential element of their pendant alarm system which can be used if they are in danger or have had an accident in the home.
The removal of the free phone followed an already existing cut by Fine Gael and Labour to the Seniors Alert Scheme.
The pendant alarm scheme is community-based and designed to enable older people to continue to live securely in their home with confidence, independence and peace of mind.
Many organisations that represent the views of the elderly in Ireland and who are doing amazing volunteer work have consistently called for the Pendant alarms Scheme to be expanded and I fully support that call.
Unfortunately however, the Minister appears to have absolutely nothing to advance increased public awareness of the Scheme and the Pendant Alarms.
Increasing a sense of personal security for the elderly and their families by advertising the Scheme in local Post Offices, or shops or when the elderly collect their pensions etc would go some way toward increasing take-up,” concluded Deputy McGrath.