Dáil Éireann - Volume 525 - 26 October, 2000

Written Answers. - Security of the Elderly.

160. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he will intro[198] duce a scheme to cover the monitoring fee costs for medic alarms to elderly people to allow the fee to be paid by way of a grant to the relevant community alert groups, in view of the fact that many elderly people are not actually getting the alarms as they cannot afford the monitoring fee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23765/00]

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 grant aid to voluntary groups and organisations who have undertaken to identify those elderly people in need of assistance under the scheme.

Since I came to office in mid-1997 I have allocated a total of £13 million to this scheme which allowed some 53,000 individuals to receive assistance under the scheme. I am anxious to ensure that this scheme continues to address the security needs of the most vulnerable older people in our society and accordingly a sum of £5 million has been provided for the scheme in my Department's estimates for 2000.

Grant aid is available towards the cost of: small-scale physical security equipment such as strengthening of doors and windows, window locks, door chains and locks and security lighting; and socially-monitored alarm systems such as the “pendant” alarm system which is operated via the telephone and is worn around the neck or wrist.

Annual monitoring fees or maintenance fees associated with these systems are not provided for under the scheme.

A review of the scheme was completed in April 1999 and there are no plans to amend the scheme.