Seniors Alert Scheme – Dáil Debates

Seniors Alert Scheme – Dáil Debates

 

This page provides details of Seniors Alert Scheme related matters as discussed in Dáil Éireann. Links to the original questions and responses are also provided (for the latest representations). For direct access to debates please visit the Dáil debates section of the Dáil Éireann website which is updated regularly.

 


28 September 2017, Dáil Éireann Debate: Seniors Alert Scheme

 

QUESTION 258: Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the position regarding the changing of contracts for the installation of personal monitored alarms; the rationale behind expected changes regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41068/17]

 

RESPONSE – Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The Seniors Alert Scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of my Department and Pobal. The scheme encourages community support for vulnerable older people in our communities by providing grant assistance towards the purchase and installation of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. Funding is available under the scheme towards the purchase of equipment i.e. personal alarm and/or pendant by a registered organisation.

 

In 2016, with my Department’s agreement, Pobal commissioned a general review of the scheme to identify potential improvements, including technological advances. Following the review, a new scheme was designed and tenders were invited from potential suppliers. I understand this process has almost concluded and I intend to be in a position to announce a new and improved iteration of the scheme shortly.

 


TRANSFER OF SENIORS ALERT SCHEME TO POBAL

Seniors Alert Scheme – Dáil Debates

 

Following the 2014 announcement that the Seniors Alert Scheme would be transferred to Pobal from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, political parties made representations in the Dáil about the implications of the transfer. A collection of these questions are below. Original parliamentary questions along with responses from the department can be viewed on the Dáil Éireann website.

 

POLITICAL PARTY

 

DATE DETAILS OF DEPUTY/PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION

 

 

Fianna Fáil 6 Oct 2015 Deputy Michael McGrath   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   his plans to change the manner in which the seniors alert scheme is delivered, in particular if local community alert groups will still be involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34165/15]

 

 

Independent  16 June 2015

 

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae    asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the senior alert scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23757/15]

 

 

Fine Gael  29 April 2015

 

Deputy Michael Creed   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   further to Parliamentary Question No. 644 of 21 April 2015 and previous related parliamentary questions, wherein he confirms that community and voluntary groups and An Garda Síochána contributed to the review in 2010 of the community support for older people which was the forerunner to the seniors alert scheme, if he will confirm that no consultations have taken place with community and voluntary groups or An Garda Síochána regarding the changes proposed to the seniors alert scheme by this review; if he will consider, even at this late stage, consulting with those organisations that participated in the 2010 review and who participated in the drafting of the terms of reference for that review, regarding the changes that are now under way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16974/15]

 

 

Labour Party 28 April 2015

 

Deputy Michael McCarthy   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if he is aware of the consequences that the Pobal senior alert proposal will have on volunteer groups; the rationale for dividing the country into ten regions, in the context of the tendering for the revised arrangements under the senior alert scheme; the reason an individual supplier is limited to delivering a service in three regions; the cost implications of this approach for the more isolated rural regions in respect of monitoring fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16455/15]

 

 

Fine Gael  21 April 2015

 

Deputy Michael Creed   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 176, 178, 179, 180 and 182 of 1 April 2015 in which he stated that his Department undertook to consider new approaches to the senior alert scheme in 2014, decided that the scheme would be managed by Pobal and, in view of the fact that the market for the equipment was well established, decided it was neither necessary nor appropriate to engage in consultations with the market, prior to the tender process, if he will address the broader issue of consultation held in respect of these proposed changes to the senior alert scheme in 2014, rather than the specific issues of Pobal’s role or the consultations held on the tendering process; if community or voluntary groups were consulted on the new approaches originally considered in 2014; if An Garda Síochána was consulted regarding them; the feedback received from these organisations regarding the original proposed changes to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15610/15]

 

Deputy Michael Creed   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   the level of consultation that took place in respect of the proposed changes to the senior alert  scheme; if he will provide in detail the number of community groups and voluntary organisations that were consulted; if An Garda Síochána was consulted; if he will confirm the views of the organisations consulted with in respect of the proposed changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13516/15]

 

Deputy Michael Creed   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if he will confirm that the tender documents for the revised senior alert scheme will not lead to a lower standard of equipment than used under the previous regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13518/15]

 

Deputy Michael Creed   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   the number of community groups currently registered with his Department in the context of the senior alert scheme that have re-applied as local agents for the revised scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13527/15]

 

Deputy Michael Creed   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   the rationale for dividing the country into ten regions in the context of the tendering for the revised arrangements under the senior alert scheme; the reason an individual supplier is limited to delivering a service in three regions; the cost implications of this approach for the more isolated rural regions in respect of monitoring fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13537/15]

 

 

Sinn Féin 11 Mar 2015

 

Deputy Sandra McLellan   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   in respect of the new proposals for the senior alert scheme, if there will be an increase in the fee charged to monitor the alarm unit per annum; if there is a risk of participants receiving sub-European Union standard equipment; if elderly persons will continue to receive prompt responses from the new provider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10703/15]

 

 

Fianna Fáil 10 Mar 2015

 

Deputy Billy Kelleher   asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform   if he will reconsider the transfer of the senior alert scheme to Pobal, as there have been a number of issues raised (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10357/15]

 

 

Independent  10 Mar 2015

 

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the transfer of the administration of the seniors alert scheme to Pobal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10479/15]

 

 

Fine Gael 10 Mar 2015

 

Deputy Brendan Griffin   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   further to Parliamentary Question No. 572 of 3 February 2015, if the increased expenditure will allow the monitoring fee to be reduced per year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10535/15]

 

 

Fianna Fáil 10 Mar 2015

 

Deputy Billy Kelleher   asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform   if he will reconsider the transfer of the senior alert scheme to Pobal, as there have been a number of issues raised (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10357/15]

 

 

Fianna Fáil 5 Mar 2015 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if day-to-day responsibility for the seniors alert scheme has or is to be transferred to Pobal; the reason for this move; the extra cost of administration that this will entail; if the various groups around the country that administer this scheme locally were consulted; the reason for the national tendering for panels of suppliers rather than the existing arrangements; if new groups are being accepted into the scheme at present; and if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9745/15]

 

 

Labour Party
4 Mar 2015

 

Deputy Brendan Ryan:   Some times when a Topical Issue matter is put down, it may not be clear what is being requested. In this instance we are looking for further and urgent consultation between the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, community groups and Muintir na Tíre on the seniors alert scheme. I am raising this matter on foot of serious concerns and reservations I have received from local communities regarding the move to transfer the administration of the scheme to Pobal. The scheme, as it stands, is for the supply, delivery, installation and warranty of telecare equipment related to elderly and vulnerable people, equipment such as personal alarms and so-called panic buttons. The majority of the community organisations registered with the senior alerts scheme are community councils, community alert groups and neighbourhood watch groups. They have played a major role in caring for the elderly members of their communities. The transfer of the seniors alert scheme from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to Pobal has caused much concern among the voluntary community which administers the scheme on the ground, however. Muintir na Tíre has also expressed concerns, centring on the lack of proper engagement with the current service providers and stakeholders prior to the announcement of the tender.

 

Deputy Brendan Ryan: I have received contact from community groups all over the county, and they have each told a similar story. This tender was announced without any consultation and its terms cast into real doubt the continued excellent level of service provided by community groups and service providers. I and my colleagues are asking that this process be put on hold in order to allow for proper in-depth engagement with community groups and service providers.

 

Deputy Brendan Ryan:   We need to protect these people and ensure that the quality of service and after care for the telecare systems are not compromised.

 

Deputy Brendan Ryan:   Other Deputies such as Deputy Michael Moynihan of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Tony McLoughlin of Fine Gael and also Deputy Michael Creed have received similar communications and share our concerns. This is a genuine cross-party call to the Department and to the Minister of State. We all share the concerns of the community groups that are dealing with this on the ground. They are the experts and they feel they have not been consulted properly. Efforts need to be made to facilitate real consultation on this matter in order, perhaps, to amend the terms of the tender to protect what is good and what works in the current scheme.

 

The big question is, what is the objective of the change? What is it supposed to achieve? The scheme works well as it is and the customers are very happy. What problem is the Department trying to solve? It is not clear. I ask the Minister of State to respond positively to this genuine cross-party request to consult with all stakeholders before bringing the current tendering process to a conclusion. It is important to listen and respond to the concerns of the customers of the scheme and the community groups that have played such an important role in making it a success.

 

 

Sinn Féin

 

4 Mar 2015

 

Deputy Dessie Ellis:   There is serious concern about the present plan to transfer the security alert scheme to Pobal. This scheme, by all accounts administered in an efficient and cost-efficient way through community and voluntary groups since 1996, has stood the test of time. There are hundreds of community and voluntary groups registered under it. There are approximately seven or eight companies as well as around 15 to 20 alarm companies involved. One company has 30,000 connections across the country. The new tendering process envisaged would limit this company and others to tendering for three areas out of the ten that Pobal has identified. This would inevitably lead to job losses in areas of maintenance, repairs, monitoring and supply. There is a huge risk that prices will increase and standards will fall. With over 150,000 customers, Pobal will be denying existing companies their ability to tender in a fair and equitable way, with no guarantee they would even win one of them. Relationships have also been built up with elderly people and other groups. What consultations took place? Were existing businesses, community groups, suppliers and, most importantly, the consumers consulted? Is this another cost-cutting exercise? If so, lives could be put at risk if standards fall. Pobal has no experience in this area. Standards in alarms and what they do vary. Some are quite sophisticated, monitoring movement, smoke levels, carbon monoxide, medicine reminders, fall detections, and bed occupancy. We need to place a hold on this and consult further because I do not believe this is in the interests of the people. Any person or group I have spoken to has said that the system has worked well. Why do we need to do this?

 

Deputy Dessie Ellis:   I reiterate Deputy Ryan’s point that this is an all-party request. We have received representations across the board from various people, including the people who avail of the service. Is the Minister of State aware that the companies currently engaged in this have collectively paid back more in VAT than the €2.3 million allocated to the scheme? The Minister of State has said this would promote more SME participation. What about the existing SMEs and the jobs and services they provide?

 

Deputy Dessie Ellis:  The Minister of State said it was not a cost-cutting exercise. There will be ten regional lots but if one can only tender for three and if one has 30,000 customers spread across the country, then one is limited and jobs will be lost. It will have a very serious impact. The Minister of State did not answer the question properly in terms of engagement with the different bodies, customers and suppliers. She said that in some cases it was not necessary. I do not accept that and believe they should have been consulted.

 

 

Fianna Fáil  12 Feb 2015

 

Deputy Michael Moynihan   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if his attention has been drawn to the serious concerns held by volunteers in local community groups regarding the proposed changes to the seniors alert scheme, in particular regarding the lack of consultation with those groups who have been administering this scheme, with such great effect up to now; his views on delaying the implementation to allow for more conclusive discussion regarding these changes with the grassroots volunteers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6480/15]

 

 

Fine Gael 11 Feb 2015

 

Deputy Tony McLoughlin   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   regarding the proposed changes of the senior alert scheme, if consultation with any community groups and stakeholder has taken place; if there are plans to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6198/15]

 

 

Fine Gael  27 Jan 2015
Deputy Patrick O’Donovan   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if he will provide details of the engagement that has taken place between his Department and the community alert organisation in respect of proposed changes to the seniors alert scheme; his plans to bring forward changes to the scheme; if he will provide details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3575/15]

 

 

Labour Party 14 Jan 2015

 

Deputy Michael McCarthy   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the seniors alert scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49490/14]

 

 

Labour Party 14 Jan 2015

 

Deputy Ciarán Lynch   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   the changes to the seniors alert scheme that are proposed; his views on whether sufficient consultation has been undertaken with interested parties; his further views on the points raised in a document (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1107/15]

 

 

Fine Gael 14 Jan 2015

 

Deputy Jerry Buttimer    asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   in view of the change in management of the senior alert scheme, if he will provide details of all consultations with stakeholders held by officials in his Department prior to transferring management of the scheme to Pobal; if under newly tendered contracts the minimum standard required will be the existing EU standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1513/15]

 

 

Fianna Fáil 2 Dec 2014

 

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   the reason for the change in the tendering system for the seniors alert grant scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45857/14]

 

 

Fianna Fáil  2 Dec 2014

 

Deputy Michael Moynihan    asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   to outline his proposed changes to the seniors alert scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46047/14]

asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   to outline the discussions he has had with Pobal and the companies current supplying the seniors alert scheme with regard to proposed changes to the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46048/14]

asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if he has conducted a cost benefit analysis of the proposed changes to the seniors alert scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46049/14]

 

Fine Gael  11 Nov 2014

 

Deputy Michael Creed   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if his attention has been drawn to the proposal by his Department to involve Pobal in the operation of the senior alert scheme; the consultations that have taken place with local community and voluntary groups involved in the care of the elderly regarding this change of practice; the way this new approach will enable local voluntary groups to ensure more regular engagement with the elderly; the implications for the existing approximately 150,000 social alarms in operation and the responsibility for maintenance of these items; if his attention has been drawn to the significantly higher monitoring charges levied in other neighbouring jurisdictions and the consequences of a successful tender exiting the Irish market; if, in view of all of these issues, he will engage in the process of extensive consultation with the voluntary groups involved before Pobal is enabled to proceed with these significant changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43279/14]

 

 

Fianna Fáil 21 Oct  2014
Deputy Sean Fleming   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   his plans to tender for the seniors alert scheme and the parameters being considered as part of this tender as to whether it will be for a three-year or five-year period; if it will be one national tender or if it will be done on a regional basis; the requirement to deal with persons who already have alarms fitted under the existing scheme; if they will be included; if this will be open to all organisations to apply even if they are commercial organisations or organisations with a revenue charity reference number; if a regulatory impact assessment has been carried out on this process; the reason Pobal was selected to carry out this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40192/14]

 

 

Labour Party 23 Sept 2014 Deputy Eric Byrne   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   his views on correspondence, details supplied, in relation to the seniors alert scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35811/14]

 

 

Labour Party 17 Sept 2014 Deputy Michael McCarthy   asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government   if he will provide assurances that funding will be maintained for the senior alerts scheme (details supplied); and his views on extending the scheme to include assistive technology devices (details supplied). [33458/14]