BREAKING NEWS: Ireland’s Seniors Alert Scheme (SAS) which provides government grant funding for alarms to elderly people across Ireland is to cease operating in its current form in less than thirty days, according to government agency, Pobal. The scheme was originally advertised as a three year Framework Agreement in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
In an notification of termination sent to suppliers through the Irish government’s etenders procurement website today, less than one year into the contract, Pobal stated:
“RE: Notice of Cancellation – Framework Agreement for the Provision of Telecare Equipment in Connection with the Seniors Alert Scheme… For the avoidance of doubt suppliers appointments on the above referenced Framework for all lots will cease on the 1st September 2016. It is intended to advertise a new process for the Seniors Alert Scheme following the completion of a review of the current scheme which will be undertaken in the coming months.”
In further correspondence to suppliers, Pobal indicated that the contract termination would not prevent older people from continuing to receive alarms. They stated:
“In the interim Pobal wishes to ensure the continuation of services to community groups and older people and to that end Pobal will be in touch with you shortly to ensure continuation of services over the next twelve (12) month period.”
Pobal has also notified registered community groups that “there will be no changes to the current way you order the equipment”.
The Seniors Alert Scheme was transferred from the Department of the Environment Community & Local government to Pobal in 2014. According to documents obtained from the Department under Freedom of Information, the proposed cost of the transfer was €831,000. That figure included set up costs of €198,000 and an annual charge of €211,000 representing “approximately 6.5% of the scheme budget”.
The transfer of the Seniors Alert Scheme to Pobal in 2014 received widespread criticism, following Pobal’s decision not to consult with community groups, older people or suppliers prior to the transfer [e.g. see Fianna Fáil Press Release: Transfer of Senior Alert Scheme to Pobal is Wrong and Should be Reversed – Ó Cuív, Southern Star: Fears for future of alarms for elderly scheme, The Independent: ‘Serious concerns’ over changes to the Senior Alert Scheme].
Update: Pobal has now re-tendered the Seniors Alert Scheme & contracts have been awarded.
Update: An earlier version of this article stated the transfer to Pobal took place in 2015, this has now been corrected. Pobal however awarded the first contracts in 2015 under the public tender process.
Related: Telecare.ie article ‘Seniors Alert Scheme – Pobal Review’