Programme Coordinator Claire McIntyre/ Pamela Tynan

Chair of the Alliance John Mulholland

 

Who’s involved?

Who’s involved in the Laois Age Friendly County Programme?

The Laois Age Friendly County Programme was launched in April 2014. The Alliance is established and the inaugral meeting was held in July. The Alliance, to date, has been chaired by Anne-Marie Deleney, Director of Services for Laois County Council. Other members include:-

Angela McEvoy, Senior Planner, Laois County Council
Anne Goodwin, Laois Partnership
Joe Ruane, HSE
Caroline Myers, Laois Sports Partnership
Jackie McIntyre, Laois Libraries
Brian Bonham, Laois Trip
Shane Winters, Interim Regional Development Consultant, Age Friendly Ireland
Muireann Ni Chonaill, Laois Arts Officer
Monsignor John Byrne, Portlaoise Parish
John Scanlon, Chief Superintendent, Garda Siochana
Anna Mai McHugh, NPA
Geraldine Delaney, Community &Enterprise
Ian McCormack, Community & Enterprise

What did older people tell us?

WHAT DID OLDER PEOPLE ACROSS COUNTY LAOIS TELL US?

 

Extensive consultation was undertaken with older people across the county and with key service providers.  The outcomes and issues arising from those consultations with older people have informed the actions contained in this Strategy.

 

The following is a summary of the individual workshops

 

 

  1. Respect and Social Inclusion – Older adults are truly valued and respected

 

“People arrive in our group, they make friends and suddenly they are part of something”

  • It would be great if there was a committee to encourage business to give discounts to older people
  • Portlaoise has a vibrant Parish Life which could be used as a platform to include older people; the Parish Notes are a good source of information.
  • Portlaoise is a warm and welcoming place for newcomers, especially older newcomers, but some younger people lack basis manners, respect is better in smaller communities and rural areas not larger towns.
  • Formal letters from government office etc are very harsh and badly worded in general

 

  1. Social Participation – Older people participate in social and public life

 

“It’s hard to make the first step to get involved in a group, there are a lot of people who have moved to the area”

  • Active retirement groups have to pay for a venue in some areas, this is a cost and needs to be addressed, funds should be raised for other issues not room hire.
  • The groups need to get more members and also improve the issues they are involved in, some groups are over booked and have a waiting list for membership.
  • Older people need to join other groups like Tidy Towns etc and get involved in volunteering.
  • It’s important that activities are multicultural and multigenerational also as this is the society we live in now.
  • We need to encourage more people over 50 to get involved in groups before they are very old.
  • The planned befriending service could be used for social outings also.
  • The Library is a very important service and could be used more

 

  1. Housing- Older people stay living in their own homes and communities

 

“The size of home can be an issue and the utilities bills are the same regardless of the number of occupants”

  • Nursing homes are not always the answer and are not for everyone.
  • Household charges and water charges should have exemptions for older people, older people can canvas and exercise their political power in this regard.
  • Older people need to think about adapting their homes for later life before they need to.
  • The “Florida Model” of retirement villages is a better option, where all facilities are in one place.
  • The costs of repairs are very high and you need to get someone you can trust. The grant application forms are very complex and need to be simplified and made more age friendly.
  • Feeling safe in your own home is very important; this should include access to personal alarms.
  • Resident Associations are also really important so people know who their neighbours are and when they are home.
  • Smaller families mean less people to provide care in the future with people living longer and families dispersed.
  • A care and repair service is available (we think) but we need to know more about it information is not available only to a few.

 

  1. Community Support and Health Services- Older people leas healthy and active lives for longer

 

  • It’s important that our hospital is upgraded and improved to a centre of excellence.
  • Health services are very stretched and the government is not forward planning, people are living longer and no provision is being made for this, waiting lists are getting longer and longer
  • Service are good and staff are well educated carers support is positive but inconsistent. Why only the GP knows about some of the services and you need to be referred like the memory clinic.
  • Older people need medical advice and support about concerns not just GP’s etc , there is no community centre and the PHN only available for medical issues not advice. If there is a service that provides this we don’t know about it.
  • The cost of leisure facilities could be explored and maybe allocated space for older people on a daily basis including lessons. There is not a swimming pool in other areas and transport could be provided into Portlaoise.
  • Tai Chi classes and yoga for older people would be good to keep active.

 

  1. Transport- Older people can get to when they need to go, when they need to go

 

“Access to transport in Portlaoise is very good but in rural areas its a problem if you can’t drive”

  • The rural bus link is useful although it does travel around the county and is a very long journey
  • There are simply not enough stops in the right places which would not cost more to resolve.
  • A lot of Active Retirement members have stopped driving; this makes it difficult to get to meetings, even though they are in town. A bus service around the estates would be really useful, Laois Trip are very supportive but may not be in a position to provide a weekly bus route to meetings.
  • There are 16 trains per day in Portlaoise and a very good national rail network but there is a lack of information, timetable about Town Link and Green Bus.
  • There appears to be enough taxis but they are expensive and not very flexible.
  • Information about transport is the biggest challenge

 

  1. Outdoor Spaces and Physical Environment- Older people are supported to be out and about by the social and build environment.

 

  • There are excellent sports fields in Abbeyleix and they are well lit and safe.
  • The golf Club in Killenard charges €15 walking fee which is not affordable for older people.
  • There should be more development of board walks and cycle and path ways, they are very popular in Germany and Holland. Older people enjoy walking
  • Exercise machines in playgrounds are very useful and very good for a health heart.
  • The safety of walks and the lighting is important for older peoples

 

  1. Communication and Information- Older adults have the information they need to live full lives

 

  • It’s hard to know what exactly is on where, there is a lot of activities but it’s hard to find out about them. People do not know what services are available for housing , Health and other activities.
  • Smart phone and technology could be used more to help older people get information in a simple way.
  • Older people found the Citizens information excellent to find out about entitlements, and have your voice heard. This obviously depends on how active and confident you are.

 

  1. Civic Participation and Employment- Older people continue to learn, develop and work.

 

  • There is concern for travel cards and a lot of older people’s benefits are being removed like the land life which is needed for alarms.
  • Those attending found it difficult to get older people to attend civic meetings and exercise their power with elected representatives.
  • Local Representatives only make themselves available when it comes to local elections, they do not feed into County Council structure. They should come to active retirement groups and come out to meet older people who are the voters.
  • The employment opportunity for older people in Laois is very limited.
  • Adult literacy is an area that older people could get involved in and make more of a contribution to the ETB and other organisations. Older adults are not really encourage to participate but some candidates were older this time.

 

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How has the County responded?

How has the County Laois responded? (An overview)

An Age Friendly County has been described as a county that recognises the great diversity among older people and promotes their inclusion in all areas of community life. It is a county that respects older people’s decisions and lifestyle choices and responds to related needs and preferences. Laois County Council recognises that older people are a valuable resource and have much experience and resources to assist the county’s growth.

The Laois Age Friendly County Programme was launched in July, 2014. The Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, an inter-agency planning Alliance, has been established to oversee the implementation of the initiative at county level. In Laois the following stakeholders are involved, An Garda Siochana, the HSE, Local Link, Laois Partnership, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois/Offaly Education & Training Board, Laois Older People’s Forum and Laois County Council.

LAOIS AGE FRIENDLY COUNTY STRATEGY 2016-2021

The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016 – 2021 is a framework plan designed to create a county where everyone, including older people are valued and respected. It seeks to improve the quality of lives of people over the age of 55 in County Laois and sets out specific actions to be taken under the 8 (WHO) Themes that target areas designed to improve the quality of life of older people in County Laois. This strategy is a direct response to the views gathered from 283 older people over the age of 55 years in County Laois. It provides the structure for cross-sector cooperation which is essential to improve the quality of life for older people in Laois. The strategy outlines that whilst Laois County Council have taken a leadership role in the development of the strategy, a multi-agency approach will be undertaken in an effort to address the issues and challenges that have arisen through the consultation process.

Our ambition to be Age Friendly means that Laois will:-
• Become a great place to grow old.
• Have easily accessible public buildings, shops and services.
• Incorporate older people’s views into significant decisions being made about Laois.
• Promote a positive attitude to ageing and address stereotypes about older people.
• Create opportunities for older people to be engaged with their county socially, as employees and as volunteers.

AGE FRIENDLY PARKING SPACES

Age Friendly car parking spaces have been provided at Laois Shopping Centre in Portlaoise and outside the Post Office in Lyster Square, Portlaoise. Portarlington has three spaces, one in Market Square, one on Main Street and one in Centra carpark. Mountmellick has two spaces at the MDA. Graiguecullen has one space at Doyles of the Shamrock just off the Portlaoise road roundabout. The Gandon Inn and Treacy’s Bar and Restaurant on the Heath have an Age Friendly car parking space each and it is hoped that more private Age Friendly car parking spaces will be put in place around the county particularly near the supermarkets.
Anyone over the age of 55 can avail of the spaces but they are intended to accommodate the less mobile or less agile over 55s. These spaces are courtesy spaces only and will still be paid parking and will be patrolled by the Traffic Wardens.

Age Friendly Parking car stickers are available free of charge by contacting Geraldine Moore Delaney, Laois Age Friendly Co-Ordinator, Community Development Section, Laois County Council, County Hall, Portlaoise or by email agefriendly@laoiscoco.ie or phone 057 86 64107.

 

 

 

 

WALKABILITY AUDIT

A walkability audit involves a group of people getting together and walking planned routes in order to assess how easy or difficult it is to walk/access that route. Walkability audits are a great way of understanding how a town works for people of all abilities, and how it could be improved.
The audit assesses areas like how easy it is to cross the road, if the footpaths are level, if there is any street furniture blocking the way, what the bus stops are like. It is recommended that older people with a mixture of abilities undertake the walkability in order to maximise the audit findings. Consultation is at the heart of the audit process. Walkability audits are one of the methods used to collect data from people to understand how their town works for them and how it could be improved. The walkability audit tool has been developed and guidelines created which are available to local authorities and community groups who would like to conduct audits in their local areas.
To date Walkability Audits have taken place in Abbeyleix and Portarlington and will take place in Mountmellick at the beginning of May.

 

 

 

 

INFORMATION GUIDE TO SERVICES FOR OLDER PEOPLE IN COUNTY LAOIS

The Information Guide was produced to address the information needs of older people, in particular the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community. This Information Guide will help create more awareness of the services and support available for older people in the county. Having information more readily available will enhance the lives of older people who make a valuable contribution to our society.

It provides advice and information on entitlements, health, housing, home service supports and maintenance, safety and security, social and leisure activities, transport, support groups, useful numbers and contact details and so on. It will be of practical benefit to older people and the organisations and services working with them.

The information in this guide is presented in a clear colour coded format making it easy to use and is free of charge to the over 55s.

 

AGE FRIENDLY BUSINESS RECOGNITION SCHEME

There are more than one million older (60+) people living and shopping in Ireland. 50% of consumer spending is by people over 60. Over 65’s have €10 billion to spend in Ireland each year.

Most Age Friendly practices are low or zero cost. Simple changes such as making a business easier to find, enter, move around and make purchases in are good for customers and better for business.

By advertising a business as an Age Friendly Business, this is letting older people know that their custom is valued and you are committed to serving them.

Join the Age Friendly Business community today. This recognition allows customers to identify you as an Age Friendly Business and publicises your business to older consumers. 46 businesses across Laois have taken part in the Business Recognition Programme and are now classed as Age Friendly Businesses.

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

The Message in a Bottle is an emergency information scheme which includes an Information Form containing accurate relevant medical and other information relating to the Bottle recipient. The Information Form simply directs the emergency services to information stored in a plastic bottle which is kept in the fridge: vulnerable people or those with a medical condition can enter their details on the form which is inside the bottle. It will also include a photograph, health details, emergency contact, and doctor, where there are pets that need looking after and much more which will assist the emergency services.
The scheme is free to the user. As a minimum it will save the Emergency Services valuable time identifying the patient and their emergency contacts.
By stating whether the patient has special medication or allergies etc., it is a potential lifesaver and provides peace of mind to the user and their friends and families. With the bottle come three green stickers, one for inside the front door, one for inside the back door and one for the fridge door. The Emergency Services will see them and know there is additional vital information available.

For further information on any of the above items or about the Age Friendly Programme in general please contact Geraldine Moore Delaney, Laois Age Friendly Co-Ordinator, Community Development Section, Laois County Council, County Hall, Portlaoise, Co. Laois – 057 86 64107 or agefriendly@laoiscoco.ie

 

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