Minister for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler welcomed the latest stage in the national rollout of the Healthy Age Friendly Homes, with the opening of the recruitment campaign for Local Coordinators for all 31 Local Authorities.
The Healthy Age Friendly Homes Programme is a unique cross-government collaboration between the Department of Health, HSE, and Local Government.
It provides an important, rounded model of care which supports older people to remain in their own homes where possible, to avoid hospital admission through the provision of care in the community, and to ultimately avoid early or unnecessary admission to residential care.
The programme works in simple steps:
- Participants can be referred into the programme by family members, friends, healthcare providers, social prescribers, members of the community (for example, Gardaí), or self-refer themselves.
- Once referred into the programme, participants will receive a home visit from a Local Coordinator who is based in their local authority and has good links into statutory and non-statutory services in the community.
- The Local Coordinator – based in the local authority – will carry out an assessment of their needs across health, housing, community, and technology.
- Local Coordinators then work with each older person to design a personalised action plan under each of these areas to support them to live healthily and independently in their own home for as long as possible. Examples of interventions include access to primary care, public health nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, meals on wheels, befriending services, housing adaptation grants, home energy retrofits, and assistive technologies such as wearable devices, pendants and fall detectors.
Over the course of the two-year pilot, the programme has supported nearly 3,000 older adults and provided 6,000 supports under all four pillars. The national rollout of the programme aims to support up to 10,000 older adults per year.
Minister Butler commented, “I am really pleased to see that these posts have been advertised and once staff are in place, we will see the national rollout of the Healthy Age Friendly Homes Programme. This is a really important initiative that focuses on the wider determinants of health for our older people, acknowledging that good health and wellbeing goes beyond just healthcare. The report published last year on the pilot showed the programme is having a positive impact on the quality of life for our older people and providing trusted, expert advice for a range of issues. It is a positive example of Sláintecare in action, working across multiple sectors and government departments to deliver a truly person-centred care programme and tailoring supports to the need of each person.”
Fundamental to the success of the programme has been active collaboration between such agencies as the Department of Health; Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage; HSE; and Local Authorities, in addition to the relationships established with local care teams.
Minister Kieran O’Donnell outlined, “as Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, I very much welcome the national rollout of the Healthy Age Friendly Homes programme which will put this significant important local level support in place for older people in their communities across the country. This is also an important component in delivering on the strategic objective in both our Programme for Government and Housing for All to support older people to live in their own home with dignity and independence. I look forward to its effective delivery through the Age Friendly Ireland shared service working through local authorities, and in close co-operation and collaboration with the Department of Health and my department.”
Moving into the national rollout phase, the programme will continue to seek out opportunities to establish partnerships with other agencies and organisations in the delivery of wraparound supports for older people.
Jackie Maguire, Chief Executive of Meath County Council, and host of Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service said, “as host of the Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service, I am delighted that the Healthy Age Friendly Homes programme has received funding for national scale-up. This critical partnership, between healthcare and local government, fosters the expertise of multi-sectoral practitioners enabling them to work collaboratively and deliver person-centric services customised for each individual older person. At the heart of local government is a citizen-led ethos and this programme therefore speaks to our core values, essentially supporting this government’s vision of an age friendly Ireland. We look forward to working in continued co-operation with Sláintecare and the HSE to support older people to live at home, rightsize or adapt their homes with access to all the services they need in order to ensure that they can continue living independently as they age.”