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Dutch Housing & Care Leaders Embark on Study Mission to Meath

Age Friendly Ireland | Local | Meath

Dutch Housing & Care Leaders Embark on Study Mission to Meath Group photo

Dutch delegates on a learning and exchange programme with Irish counterparts were welcomed to Meath County Council headquarters on 13th June.  The delegates, including CEOs, Senior Policy Advisors and Programme Managers of social housing organisations and care providers, are in Ireland to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and explore innovative solutions for supporting vulnerable citizens in our communities.

Age Friendly Ireland, a local government shared service hosted by Meath County Council, hosted the delegation and showcased some innovative practices such as the Healthy Age Friendly Homes Programme. This is a new service that provides one-to-one support in the home to older people to assist with the process of housing adaptations and accessing services that enable independent living.

The Netherlands

Like Ireland, the Netherlands is facing a double challenge. On one hand there is an increasing demand for care and (supported) housing from the growing ageing population as well as from other vulnerable citizens. Simultaneously, a labour shortage in caregiving work, coupled with a decline in women undertaking unpaid caregiving roles, is impacting how care is provided at home. This challenge is faced by most European countries. Consequently, a new type of housing and innovative social care provision is urgently required. Meeting the needs of the growing ageing population with age friendly housing and supports to age in place will also require co-operation between different sectors, including local authorities, health and social care services, the voluntary sector and private housing providers.


The Dutch delegation firstly visited the Grangegorman site in the Dublin north inner city, where they learned about the Grangegorman Development Agency’s progress to date, current plans for a long-term ‘Residential Care Neighbourhood’ project, and the development of Primary Care for ageing communities. Conor Sreenan, Director of Strategy and Design with the Agency spoke about the implementation of the Grangegorman Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) Planning Scheme. The Grangegorman SDZ comprises plans for c.400,000m2 of development across the site, including healthcare, housing for older-persons, tertiary and primary education facilities, student housing, mixed-use commercial development, and public amenities. The social and urban renewal of this historic 30ha Grangegorman site is being delivered by the Agency on behalf of the Health Service Executive, Technological University Dublin, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Department of Education and ultimately the existing and emerging communities within the Grangegorman neighbourhood.

Group shot Dutch delegation at Grangegorman

Mr. Sreenan said: “‘The GDA was delighted to welcome our Dutch visitors to Grangegorman, and to share our experiences with them. We were privileged to discuss our role as the developers of a planned Residential Care Neighbourhood; a new multi-storey housing project for older persons, those suffering from dementia and those requiring mental health support. This ambitious project on behalf of the HSE seeks to change cultures of care away from task-oriented medical approaches to ones supporting people to direct their own lives; in residential settings that are their homes. The building will balance collective ‘household’ living, courtyarded connections to nature, a new public street and new public pathways linking the new homes to the North Circular Road, and into the heart of the Grangegorman site. This is our third development for the HSE and strengthens our commitment to delivering thoughtful design solutions and dignified access to healthcare and housing which is integrated within the Grangegorman site and with our existing and emerging communities.’

Eamonn McCluskey, Project Manager with HSE Capital & Estates Office, explained how the health service is preparing health care and residential care buildings to meet the needs of the ageing population, ensuring that new developments have ‘age friendly’ features and are developed according to best practice. “HSE Capital & Estates have implemented the 2021 Age Friendly Ireland Primary Care Centre Checklist into the Standard Brief for the future delivery of Primary Centres nationally – including those delivered in 2023 and in construction in 2024. The aim is that buildings are appropriately designed and suitable for all HSE services users.”

Colliers Place Age Friendly Housing

In the afternoon, the study visit travelled to Duleek, County Meath to see Colliers Place, an award-winning age friendly housing development managed by North & East Housing Association. The 22 units are designed to accommodate older residents and people with more limited mobility. There are 18 one-bed and 4 two-bed bungalows. Pat Costelloe of North and East Housing outlined the key features of the development that support older residents:

  • Universal Design features making the homes fully accessible (for example, level access wet room)
  • A rated for energy
  • Integrated into the community in a town centre location
  • Security features
Colliers Place Duleek

Ireland is the first country in the world to have full affiliation to the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities, with an active Age Friendly Programme in each of the 31 Irish local authorities. This work is supported at national level with Meath County Council hosting the national shared service centre for Age Friendly Ireland.

Age Friendly strategies help to put plans and services in place to meet the needs of the growing ageing population, with a particular focus on age friendly environments. By 2051, it is estimated there will be 1.6 million people aged 65+ living in Ireland.

Catherine McGuigan, Chief Officer of the Age Friendly Shared Service explained the importance of the focus on housing:

“Housing is one of the key social determinants of health. Age Friendly housing located in close proximity to services with age friendly design features means that older people can remain living at home for as long as possible. It is very welcome that wider partners, such as our National Health Service Executive is planning for the ageing demographic, with a focus on the development of Age Friendly Primary Care Centres, Age Friendly Hospitals and new models of residential care. In the spirit of the Housing Options for our Ageing Population policy, all sectors need to work together to ensure there is choice for older people about where they live and that the appropriate supports are in place.”

The Dutch delegates also took part in a roundtable event in Dublin City University on Friday 14th hosted by Christine O’Kelly, DCU’s Age Friendly University Co-ordinator, where they exchanged information on challenges and good practice solutions with Irish counterparts.

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