On December the 8th 2020 in Dublin’s Custom House, Minister of State, Peter Burke, TD, Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage officially launched the local authority based 31 Age Friendly Technical Advisors. This launch is an important occasion, representing another substantial development in the joint policy statement, Housing Options for Our Ageing Population which was launched in February 2019 by both Department of Housing and Department of Health. Minister of State, Mary Butler, TD, Department of Health also attended the launch and spoke about a collaborative approach to Health and Housing for Older People in Ireland.
In July 2020 Ireland’s new Programme for Government pledged a mission and vision of an Age Friendly Ireland. The approach taken in the agreed programme for government is to support older people to live in their own homes and communities with dignity and independence, for as long as possible. The programme’s ambition is to enable everyone, of all ages, to live longer healthier lives in their own homes and communities. This vision is central to the overarching principles of the World Health Organisations Age Friendly Framework and core to the joint departmental Housing options for our Ageing Population Policy. The aim of the housing policy is to ensure that older people will have greater choice by developing a range of housing options that are suited to their needs, so they can plan ahead and, insofar as possible, choose the right home for them.
Age Friendly Ireland has supported the development and implementation of the policy document and in response to Action 4.13: ‘Local Authorities will identify and assign an individual on their housing teams to work with older people in terms of sourcing appropriate accommodation’, all Local Authorities have assigned a staff member to undertake this role so that this resource is available in all of the 31 local authorities across the country.
A member of staff at the appropriate technical level of expertise has participated in training provided by Age Friendly Ireland to enable them to become the local authority specific age friendly Housing Technical Advisor. This will ensure that they can provide specialist advice to the authority itself, to private sector interests who want to get involved in providing age-friendly housing and to individuals from the public generally.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister said ‘The specific Action which brings us here today is Action 4.13, which introduced a novel idea that local authorities should appoint a member of staff as a technical advisor on age friendly housing with the intent that this person would be a resource for older people, for the local authorities, and indeed for anyone who wants to access information about age friendly housing. In late 2019, my Department wrote to the Chief Executives of local authorities asking them to do this, and, in the wholehearted way in which they have embraced other elements of the Age Friendly Ireland programme they all agreed to do so.’
On behalf of the Local Authority sector, Chief Executive of Meath County Council, host to the Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service said, ‘Today’s launch is a significant occasion, representing another substantial development in the joint departmental housing policy and also acknowledging the sterling work of local authorities, both Departments, the Age Friendly shared service and partner organisations on the Implementation Group.’