A key principle underpinning Government policy is to support older people to live independently in their own homes and communities. The changing demographics and the implications for future health care costs underpin the importance of developing a wider choice of appropriate housing options for older people. The objective is to encourage and facilitate timely planning by older people for their future housing needs, and to rebalance the care model away from residential care to supporting people to remain in their own communities for as long as possible. As the research shows, this reflects the preferences of older people themselves.
The aim is to ensure that older people will have more choice by developing a range of housing options that are suited to their needs, so they can choose the right option for them. These options may include supported community developments akin to retirement villages, housing with supports projects or other initiatives.
Together with Damien English TD, Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, I launched a Joint Policy Statement “Housing Options for our Ageing Population”earlier this year. The purpose of this Statement is to provide a policy framework to support our ageing population in a way that will increase the accommodation options available to them and give them meaningful choice in how and where they choose to live.
There are 40 Action points in the Plan and the document is available at https://health.gov.ie/blog/publications/housing-options-for-our-ageing-population-policy-statement.
An Inter-Departmental and Inter-Agency Implementation Group, with an independent Chair has been established to progress the programme of actions. The Implementation Group will report biannually to both myself and Minister English; the first report will be delivered this month. The establishment of the Implementation Group and the implementation of the policy statement are key actions in the 2019 Sláintecare Action Plan. Many of the health related action points are influenced by and integrated with broader Sláintecare actions.