Latest blow for elderly as mobility scheme collapses
BUDGET CUTS FUNDS RUN OUT FOR VITAL FACILITIES SUCH AS CHAIR-LIFTS
A SCHEME funding stair-lifts, handrails and special showers for elderly people and those with disabilities has collapsed, there being no more money in the Wicklow coffers for the grants and no guarantee of any forthcoming amidst local authority budget cuts next year.
Wicklow County Council was initially allocated just over € 1 million by the Department of the Environment compared to almost double that in Meath and Wexford, and €1.5 million in Kildare.
‘If you can’t get up the stairs to go to the toilet then it’s only a matter of time before you have to go to a nursing home,’ said Eamonn Timmins of Age Action Ireland, who said that the emphasis should be on keeping older people in their own homes.
Mr. Timmins also added that the 15,000 people over 70 who marched on Dail Eireann last week demanding the return of the medical card are ‘preparing the way for the rest of us’.
He said that to see existing entitlements being taken away was unacceptable.
‘It is absolutely disgraceful that thousands of people with mobility impairments and who need modifications carried out in their homes will not now even have their applications looked at,’ said Cllr. Anne Ferris, who explained that the Housing Adaptation Scheme is the result of a merger of the Disabled Persons Grant Scheme and the Housing Aid for the Elderly Scheme.
‘These adaptation include stairlifts, showers, handrails and other modifications that make an enormous difference to the lives of those who use them,’ she said.
‘I would urge the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, to concentrate on the most vulnerable in our society and to ensure that there is funding to provide for this essential scheme.’
This comes alongside the announcement that local authority budgets are expected to be cut back by almost 7 per cent next year.
Funding for vital home facilities for the elderly, such as chair-lifts, has been slashed.