Widening of eligibility criteria and successful information campaign lead to upsurge in applications
The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, today announced that he has allocated an additional €400,000 for the Seniors Alert Scheme following an upsurge in applications for the free personalised alarms for people over 65. Minister Ring initially allocated €2.3 million for the Seniors Alert Scheme in October of this year. The rate of applications for personal alarms quadrupled in November after Minister Ring widened the eligibility criteria for the scheme and launched a nationwide publicity campaign.
Minister Ring said: “More than 2,600 people applied for the alarms in November compared to the average monthly rate of 600. Demand has been so high that I have decided to invest another €400,000 in the scheme in order to meet demand. This extra funding will mean more elderly people will have security and peace of mind in their homes this winter
“As part of the changes I have introduced, users no longer have to be living alone in order to qualify for the scheme, there is also free monitoring of the alarm service for the first year, after which users pay a small fee. The widening of these criteria combined with a national advertising campaign and a series of public meetings has led to a big increase in demand for the scheme.”
All participants on the Seniors Alert Scheme have a base unit installed in their home which is connected to a national helpline. Alarm devices, which are monitored 24 hours, can be worn as a pendant or around the wrist like a watch, ensuring assistance is always available.
When the user activates the personalised alarm it puts a call through to the national call centre which is open 24/7/365. The call centre operator talks to the person in their home and decides whether to alert a locally based volunteer responder or, in potentially serious circumstances, the emergency services. Over 60,000 people have received the personalised alarm pendant from the Government under the Seniors Alert Scheme since 2010.
Minister Ring is very keen to call on people to sign up older relatives or neighbours for the scheme. He said: “The best present you could get an older relative or neighbour this Christmas is to sign up them up for free a personalised alarm. All you have to do is make contact with your local Seniors Alert group. There are 596 groups around the country and you can find out about your local group by logging on to www.pobal.ie or phoning 01 5117222.
“I also want to urge people to keep an eye on their elderly neighbours at this time of year. Christmas can be a challenging time for some older people. Small gestures can make a big difference for someone who is living alone. Reaching out to an older person in your community can help brighten up their Christmas, whether it’s popping in for a chat, or lighting the fire or bringing someone some food.”