Dáil Éireann - Volume 499 - 02 February, 1999

Written Answers - Support Services for the Elderly.

98. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the provisions he has made to make the information on the community support for older people scheme available to those in need of such a scheme, in particular provisions for the visually impaired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2520/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): My Department has, since 1996, operated the scheme of community support for older people, the purpose of which is to provide funding for initiatives to improve the security and social support of vulnerable older people. This funding is provided by way of grants to voluntarty groups and organisations who have undertaken to identify those elderly people in need of assistance under the scheme.

As funding under the scheme is provided to voluntary organisations and not to individuals, my Department, in an effort to ensure that as broad a range of voluntary organisations as possible are aware of the scheme, advertises the scheme extensively each year in the national and provincial press. The main voluntary organisations which have participated in the scheme in previous years such as Neighbourhood Watch, Community Alert, Munitir na Tíre, etc. are also made aware of the scheme each year. These [996] organisations are proactive in providing support and information to a large number and wide range of vulnerable older people, including the visually impaired, who may be in need of the services provided under the scheme. In addition, the National Social Services Board, NSSB, which is under the aegis of my Department, disseminates information on the scheme to voluntary community-based groups representing vulnerable older people.

I am anxious to ensure that this scheme addresses the security needs of the most vulnerable people and that it provides this assistance in the most efficient and effective way possible. In this regard, my Department has, in consultation with the Departments of Finance and Health and Children, commissioned an independent review of the scheme which will consider how the scheme is meeting its objectives and whether it is doing so in the most efficient and effective way possible. The final report from the consultants will be available shortly.