16 November 2023
By Elaine Murphy
Local Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan has called on the Minister for Rural and Community Development to consider enhancements to the Seniors Alert Scheme
The scheme provides funding for a free personal monitored alarm for people aged 65 or older and of limited means. It is intended to support older people to live securely and independently in their homes. It is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and administered by Pobal, with the support of local community and voluntary groups.
Deputy Moynihan said: “The Seniors Alert Scheme (SAS) is hugely important to our older citizens. It helps people live at home with confidence and peace of mind because they know that help is available if they need it. It also gives their families reassurance.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of community workers – they are the ones who go to the assistance of people at all time of the day and night.”
The Cork North-West TD added: “The current version of the scheme came into effect in September 2021. The alarm monitoring service is free for the first year. After the first year, people are asked to pay the annual monitoring fee. It includes a digital alarm but I’d like to see further improvements to the scheme. In some areas the signal is so poor that the alarm does not work properly. This needs to be addressed.
“The Government also needs to look at what other technological improvements could be introduced. The scheme is invaluable to those it assists and the Government needs to ensure that funding continues to allow the service improve.”
Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development Joe O’Brien in response to the parliamentary question told Deputy Moynihan that he is committed to ensuring the scheme keeps supporting elderly citizens.
“Initial discussions have taken place between officials from my Department and the Department of Health to consider the potential role of the SAS as part of the increased use of assistive technologies aimed at supporting people to continue to live independently within their communities,” he said.
“The scheme is administered by Pobal with the support of approximately 650 registered local community and voluntary groups. This community element is central to the success of the scheme, helping to address concerns around social isolation in our older people.”
“Minister O’Brien also informed Deputy Moynihan that a national publicity campaign will be launched shortly, to further raise awareness of the scheme.
“While the campaign will have a national reach, it will have a particular focus on the regions with current low take up and will be availing of the most recent census data in this regard,” he said.
“The Seniors Alert Scheme is also part of the annual ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign, ensuring communities take all the steps necessary to be prepared for severe weather conditions.”