31 local authority-based Age Friendly Technical Advisors have been announced by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage including for Co. Clare.
This launch represents another substantial development in the joint policy statement, Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, which was launched in February 2019 by the Department of Housing and the Department of Health.
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 Organisation’s Age Friendly Framework and core to the joint departmental housing options for its 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. In response to Action 4.13, which states that “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.
Niamh Madden is the Age Friendly Housing Technical Advisor in Clare County Council. Ms Madden 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.
About Ireland’s Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme
The overarching goal of Ireland’s Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme is that every local authority area in Ireland will be a great place in which to grow old.
Underpinning the Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme is the core principle that older people are a most valuable resource to their communities and to our society in general. For this reason, the voice of the older person is at the very heart of the Programme.
The Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme is part of a worldwide, World Health Organisation (WHO) inspired movement which embraces the challenges and opportunities that our ageing population presents by facilitating local authorities to take the lead on changing thinking about ageing, and how services are planned and delivered.
Age Friendly Ireland, a shared service of local government hosted by Meath County Council, coordinates this nationwide network and in doing so brings together, supports and provides technical guidance to the 31 local authority-led, multi-agency Age Friendly City and County Programmes.
The programme is led by the local authorities working in partnership with older people, alongside a range of service providers and other relevant stakeholders. All local Age Friendly programmes are committed to embedding age friendliness through improved sustainable built environments, lifetime housing, improved public spaces, accessible public and private services, timely and accessible transport, sustained rural development and improved economic development. Internationally Ireland is considered as a front runner country in terms of the achievements it has made.
There is no doubt that the aims of the Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme are ambitious and require a change in how we think about ageing. The programme asks us to imagine new ways in which service providers and other organisations can work together to deliver improvements in supports and services that not only benefit older people but the community as a whole. The programme is underpinned by an approach where plans are developed and agreed locally and where the agencies involved agree to be accountable to each other and to older people at local level. Without the leadership of local government and the collaboration of key agencies at both local and national level, this would not have been possible.