Apr 17, 2018

Gardens of Spring Time!

A long and wet winter is finally coming to an end and Age Action’s Care & Repair volunteers are busy calling to older people who would like to have their garden tidied up for the spring time.

As we grow older and begin to lose mobility the garden is often the first thing that people struggle with. So many people have such a huge interest in gardening and have kept their garden in pristine condition all their lives. Suddenly they find themselves unable to manage it. It becomes a source of great sadness when they see it begin to run wild.

Care & Repair volunteers are happy to help! Every From March to October each year they do countless garden tidy ups. Weeding, sweeping, pruning, cutting, cleaning…. You name it and they do it!

The older people who call us can’t praise the Care & Repair team highly enough. So often we receive calls and letters saying how happy it makes them to be able to sit in the garden again or even just to look out the window with pride.

This is what Care & Repair is all about. Helping people with simple tasks that we take for granted, but that can mean so much once we can’t do them anymore. Long may it continue!

Apr 10, 2018

Majority of over 65s have never used the internet

 

In a new briefing paper published recently, Age Action calls for urgenty support to tackle high rates of digial exclusion among older people who are in danger of being left behind in an increasingly online Ireland.

Figures from Eurostat show that 50 per cent of people in Ireland aged between 65 and 74 have never been online compared with 16 per cent in Britain. In 2013, the Government described the number of people over 75 who are online as ‘negligible’.

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications with Age Action, said: “An entire generation of older people is being left behind, cut off from all of the opportunities and benefits of being able to use the internet.

“Far fewer older people in Ireland are online compared with Britain and our other EU neighbours. As service providers like banks push customers to do their business online this is making it increasingly difficult for older people to get information and to access services.

“We know there are enormous social benefits for older people who are online and research shows it can reduce depression among older people by as much as 30 per cent.

“For many older people it is a vital link to friends and families, a way to explore new hobbies and interests, and some have turned their skills to starting businesses or highlighting social issues.”

Reform and invest

Age Action runs its own computer training programme, Getting Started, with funding from the Digital Skills for Citizens scheme run by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Justin Moran continued: “We train thousands of older people to use the internet every year. We know they are as capable as anyone else of learning how to send emails, shop and bank online, or to use social media.

“But the resources are simply not there to cope with the demand for classes, to provide them in one-to-one settings or to enable older people to repeat classes to build up their confidence.

"The Government’s training programmes have helped tens of thousands people get online but the stark gap between internet use by older people in Ireland and among our EU neighbours shows just how much we need to improve."

Barriers to getting online

The paper identifies a number of barriers preventing older people getting online including ageism, a lack of confidence, the absence of broadband locally and cost, which was highlighted as a factor in research from Britain.

In June, a new Telephone Support Allowance of €2.50 a week will be introduced for those who qualify for the means-tested Fuel Allowance and live alone.

Justin Moran said: “A broadband-only deal could cost as much as €50 a month, which is a lot for someone on the State Pension. Older people, particularly those living alone, should not be priced off the internet.

“The new funding is very welcome but it’s far smaller than the old Telephone Allowance used to be and restricted to a small number of people. We’d like to see the Government increase it over the next two budgets.”

The paper sets out a number of recommendations on how to support older people to get online, see below, and Age Action will be seeking to meet with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and other policymakers in the coming weeks.

Main recommendations
  1. Immediately double funding for the Digital Skills for Citizens Grant Scheme to €4.4 million in Budget 2019 to provide more training places and to improve the scheme’s coverage in rural Ireland.
  2. Reform the Digital Skills for Citizens Grant Scheme to provide financial incentives to organisations to provide one-to-one training, to allow learners to repeat classes to build their confidence, to provide training in the older person’s home where this is necessary and to provide technical support to the newly online.
  3. Support older people on low incomes to access the internet by increasing the Telephone Support Allowance to €4 per week over the next two budgets at an estimated approximate cost of €17 million.
  4. Develop and roll out a national digital skills learning programme, integrating it with existing community infrastructure, particularly libraries and post offices, and consider looking to the British Online Centres Network and AbilityNet in Britain as potential models.

Supporting Digital Literacy Among Older People

 

Jan 19, 2018

Lots Done, More to Do!

I'm delighted to be able to report that Age Aciton's Care & Repair team provided a record number of jobs for older people in Ireland last year... an amazing 34,000!

Behind each one of this huge number of jobs is a person who has received help when they needed it. A person who was unable to do the job for themselves. A person from whom the things we take for granted and consider chores have become a source of huge frustration. 

Behind each number is a volunteer who took the time to help an older person in their community. To hang a picture, change a lock or replace a curtain rail. To put batteries in a smoke alarm or install one of the free carbon monoxide alarms that Age Action has secured for Care & Repair clients. To put up and take down Christmas decorations.   

Behind each number is a story. A story of happiness and friendship. A story of people being good neighbours. A story of a community coming together. A story of a smile. 

Last year the Care & Repair service made a real difference in the lives of so many people. Those people still need help to get by as do many others who have yet to access our service. Our aim is to go even further in 2018. We want to do more jobs than ever in more locations than ever. We want to bring more smiles to faces. 

2017 was a very successful year for the Care and Repair programme. For 2018, as the saying goes, lots done, more to do!

 
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