As we lose mobility, basic household maintenance can become very difficult to manage. People who have been house-proud all their lives can suddenly find themselves unable to maintain their homes. Even something as simple as changing a light bulb can become a major problem for an older person who is not in a position to climb on a chair to change the bulb. Other household tasks such as trimming hedges, installing smoke alarms, changing locks and moving furniture cause similar difficulties.
Care & Repair is a service designed to help people to remain living in their own homes in increased safety and comfort. It provides a free small DIY service and a list of local tradesmen who can provide quotations for larger jobs.
Last year, the service was as busy as ever. During the spring and summer months we receive lots of requests for gardening work as well as the usual household repair jobs. Trimming hedges, weeding and general tidy ups are the most common requests. The garden is often the first thing that people struggle with as they lose mobility and it’s great to be able to brighten them up for people when the sun is shining!
Throughout the year we continued to install carbon monoxide alarms in people’s homes free of charge. We hope to receive another batch alarms from Gas Networks Ireland in 2020.
Volunteers who give their time to help older people in their community are the lifeblood of the Care & Repair service. We worked to expand the volunteer team in 2019, particularly in Dublin where volunteers now have a more active role than ever before. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers all over the country for their efforts throughout the year.
The Care & Repair service is delivered by Age Action from our bases in Dublin, Cork and Galway. In order to make the service available to as many people as possible throughout the country, Age Action partners with local community organisations in cities, towns and rural areas. Age Action provides a series of supports including policies, procedures and on-site training so that local groups can launch the service in their area.
This network of community partners are an integral part of how the service is delivered. One of the most positive stories of the year was the re-launch of Care & Repair Waterford in April, much to the delight of residents. The launch event in St. Patrick’s Gateway Centre was very well received by an enthusiastic audience.
The pilot Hospital Discharge Service, launched in Cork in 2018, continued last year. This is an extension of the usual Care & Repair service to focus on the particular needs of people who are ready to be discharged from hospital but require work in their homes in order to return. Requests included clearing clutter, moving beds downstairs and collecting equipment from the hospital stores.
This element of Care & Repair requires some adaptations to the usual procedures to allow for the fact that the client may not be at home when work is being done. The systems have now been tested and we hope to roll out the service in other locations in 2020.
During the autumn and winter we receive many requests for sweeping leaves, blocking drafts and generally getting homes winter ready. One of the nicer jobs we get to do for people is to put up their Christmas decorations in December and take them down again in January. Christmas is not always an easy time of year and we’re delighted to be able to bring a little festive cheer to people’s lives!
Attention now turns to 2020 and plans are in place to improve the service offered by Care & Repair. We plan to expand our network of community partners and build our volunteer teams to increase the number of people who can access the service. We also plan to improve the extent to which we can support the people we come into contact with beyond the DIY job they request. We will forge closer relationships with other organisations so that together we can offer people a package of supports that can improve their quality of life.
None of this would be possible without the dedicated support of our staff, volunteers and community partners. Their commitment and compassion continue to inspire and we look forward to their continued support in 2020.