The Abhaile Project was the winner of the Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge in June 2017. The project developed an innovative new model to support older homeowners to reconfigure their family-sized homes by creating an independent living area suitable for the older homeowner, eliminating the need to use the stairs; and creating an affordable one-bedroom rental home upstairs. I understand that the promoters of the project are currently involved in two projects to bring the project to different house-types, one in Clondalkin and a second in Castleknock, and I will be interested to learn how these projects progress.
My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health, is currently exploring policy options including supporting housing/housing with care so that older people have a wider range of housing options and choices available to them. There are a number of key principles underpinning Government policy on housing for older people and on which the policy framework will be constructed. These involve putting in place measures to ensure that sustainable housing is provided in the right location to enable people to age in the community; to design housing and the built environment in accordance with the principles of sustainable lifetime housing; to promote the use of assistive technology to support people to live independently; to give adequate consideration to the need for social connectedness in devising policy; and to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to achieve the policy objectives.
At an Expert Conference on Housing for Older People in Farmleigh on 20 November, 2018, a number of experts in the field, including the Abhaile Project, explained how these principles can be brought to fruition in imaginative and practical ways, which bring about tangible benefits for the older person. I will ensure that this invaluable knowledge is integrated into the development of policy in this area.
The final policy framework will be published early next year and this will be a further step in the broader process of seeking to ensure that older people are provided with appropriate accommodation options that are suited to their needs. The policy statement will set out a framework by which the Government can facilitate housing, including housing with care, for older people having regard to current demographics and looking at best practice models. The aim is to ensure that people can grow old and live in a community of their choosing, with dignity and independence.