Trebling in referrals of isolated and lonely older people to housing charity

Referrals of isolated and lonely older people to the housing charity Alone trebled last year.

The organisation’s annual report also revealed an increase in applicants with higher needs, including dementia, poor physical health and mental illness, and domestic and elder abuse.

The report comes amid growing concern, voiced by Alone and other groups, about the specific difficulties faced by many elderly people in the current housing crisis.

Alone also revealed that it ran up a deficit of €150,000 as it sought to deliver services to its growing range of clients, with 28 new emergency calls every month.

According to the annual report, 600 elderly people were assisted by Alone last year and 104 people were housed.

More than half of Alone’s new residents last year came directly from homeless services, while the number of referrals of isolated and lonely older people reached 107 in 2013.

Alone chief executive Sean Moynihan said older people were becoming more aware of the concept of elderly abuse: “More people are realising, ‘this shouldn’t be happening to me’.”

He said in many cases it involved the older person being taken advantage of by people close to them and who they might be dependent on for services.

The average number of residents in Alone Supportive Housing was 91 per month, while 25% of calls to its service lines were housing related.

Just last week, the organisation said there were a growing number of elderly people being evicted from their homes in the private rental sector, creating huge pressure in a sector with inadequate housing supply.

In its annual report, Alone said: “Enquiries for housing in 2013 came from older people in poor-quality housing or those facing eviction.”

Mr Moynihan said: “Further cuts to services and supports, as well as an increase in charges disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable, meant the numbers of people coming to us for help continued to rise.

“Thankfully, we have ensured that every older person who comes to Alone facing poverty, homelessness, isolation and personal crises receives the support they need.”

The charity is continuing to focus on accommodating older people with higher support needs, while there was a 60% increase in the number of unplanned care interventions in the areas of personal care and physical health last year.

It also marked the final year of Alone’s strategic plan, Strength in Unity, with the charity reporting that “during this period of recession and austerity, we experienced a significant increase in the number of older people coming to us for support”.

Over €500,000 was spent by Alone in 2013 so that all its homes met age-friendly standards, as well as responding to maintenance calls in its housing network.

This came through total expenditure last year of just over €1m, while total income was €859,555.

The charity said cuts to housing adaptation grants and other benefits had reduced the ability of older people to live independently, at a time when the over-65 population is increasing by 400 every week and with 4,765 older people on the social housing list.

Report findings

-107 referrals of isolated and lonely older people.

-28 new emergency calls every month.

-600 elderly people assisted.

-60% rise in unplanned care interventions for personal care and physical health.

-€150,000 deficit in charity’s annual operations.


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