independent

Tuesday 2 September 2014

ALARMING CUTBACKS

RELIEF FOR PENSIONERS AS PROPOSED CUTS TO PERSONAL ALARM FUNDING SCRAPPED BY GOVERNMENT

HARRY KEANEY

Published 15/01/2013 | 10:57

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VULNERABLE ELDERLY people were relieved yesterday, Monday, to hear the government had apparently done a Uturn on cutting funding for personal alarms.

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The cutback had been branded 'ridiculous' by Sligo-based community worker, Vanessa Clarke.

It was feared that this year, pensioners living together would not be entitled to the €250 grant for a personal alarm.

And for those living alone, the amount has been cut from €250 to €230.

Vanessa said: "A lot of the people we deal with are "in caring situations" at home.

Vanessa, whose areas include Sligo, Leitrim, and Donegal said: "These people may not be in great health, and may have a risk of falling.

"This cutback is creating a culture of fear."

However, in an about-turn following revelations of the cuts, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told RTE that everyone over 65 would be entitled to apply for a grant.

A Department of Environment spokesman later confirmed that funding for the scheme had been reinstated to 2012 levels.

Age Action welcomed the decision to reverse the cuts.

Spokesman Eamon Timmins said: "We are glad that commons sense has prevailed."

Vanessa said it was understandable that cuts were necessary in times of austerity.

But, prior to the government's change of heart, she asked how many alarms

could be purchased with what it would cost the HSE to admit one or two persons to hospital with serious injuries, or the cost of reversing hypothermia.

"Worse still, can we ever count the cost in wellbeing caused by serious trauma?

"This in a week where we heard that €40,000 was spent on the provision of footballs in our prisons for the entertainment of the perpetrators of these acts, should they ever come to justice," she said.

Meanwhile, the Carers Association said it was shocked to learn of the over 50 per cent cut to the Senior Alert Scheme budget, from €2.45 million in 2012 to €1.15 million in 2013.

Catherine Cox, Communications Manager, The Carers Association, said: "This scheme is seen as vital in supporting older people to live longer in their own homes.

"These alarms are saving lives yet Government cannot see their value.

"Thousands of family carers are reliant on these personal alarms for peace of mind for their loved ones."

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