the reversal of the scrapping funding of personal alarms for the elderly which has benefited many local people and families has been welcomed in Laois.
The Seniors Alert Scheme provides grant support for the supply of equipment to enable older people to continue to live securely in their homes. It is run by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.
The scheme provides equipment including monitored personal alarms, monitored smoke detectors, monitored carbon monoxide detectors, external security lights and internal emergency lights.
The Portlaoise employment group volunteer and scheme co-ordinator, Johnny Dalton, told the Leinster Express that about 1,500 alarms have been given out to people in the Portlaoise catchment area over the past 12 years. Mr Dalton has been co-ordinating the scheme for people in the area and said that it is been a great help for people.
“It is a good safeguard for older people, if they are have a fall or get injured they can press their alarm and a call goes through to Task Community Care in Dublin who will then contact one of the three keyholders on the alarm. This can be a neighbour or family member - someone living close by,” he said
Mr Dalton said that it is also a great security measure for people against intruders in their home.
Cuts to the grant would have meant everybody using it would have to pay €30, money which Mr Dalton said a lot of older people would not have to spare. This is on top of the €66 monitoring fee which is paid every year while the person has the alarm. The scheme itself is completely voluntary.
Local TDs welcomed the u-turn after critcising the 50% cuts proposed before the weekend. Brian Stanley TD was pleased with the Government decision to reverse the planned cut.
“I welcome the decision which is the correct thing to do. Public pressure has once again forced Minister Hogan into another u-turn on yet another disastrous decision from his Department.”
Charlie Flanagan TD also welcomed the decision, after expressing concerns to Minister Hogan about the impact of any reduction in funding.
“I was very concerned about the potential impact that a reduction in funding would have on older citizens in Laois. I know from speaking with a number of them that the their involvement in the scheme and the availability of a panic alarm provides a source of great comfort to them.”
He said that the decision to retain funding of nearly €2.5m is important given the increase in the number of people who are availing of the grant, adding that the scheme is providing an important service to the elderly, especially in rural areas.
Cllr Mary Sweeney also added her voice to those welcoming the retention of the grant.
“I have seen first hand in Ballyroan how important the Seniors Alert Scheme can be. We have seen huge interest from people who wish to be involved in the scheme.
“This has been reflected right throughout the county with nearly 30 schemes in operation,” she said.