Community representatives from across Ireland who are part of an innovative scheme which supports older people to continue living independently in their own homes, will meet in Dublin this week to discuss ways of expanding the programme.

Age Action’s Care and Repair programme was launched in 2007 to provide a small DIY service and home visitations to older people, with the aim of enabling them to live independently and with dignity in their own homes.“Typically, the jobs may involve light gardening, fitting hand rails, changing light bulbs or unblocking sinks – small jobs which many of us take for granted but which may be challenging for some older people,” Age Action chief executive Robin Webster said. “It is a wonderful success story which is helping thousands of older people.”

Today’s (September 27) conference at Croke Park will be attended by Care and Repair’s community partners, local authorities, older people’s groups and potential funders. The keynote address will be delivered by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. The conference will mark the start of Positive Ageing Week 2013, which runs until October 5.

Last year Age Action’s volunteers and its 30 community partners across Ireland carried out almost 19,500 jobs. Since the programme began, they have completed over 58,000 jobs.

With a gradually ageing population, one of the greatest challenges is how society supports more older people to remain living in their own communities. “Approximately one-third of older people currently live alone, and with more than a quarter of older people living with a disability and more than half have a chronic illness, there is no doubt that the question of how to support people to live with dignity will quickly become a major challenge for Irish society,” Mr Webster said.

“Age Action believes that our Care and Repair model is working to meet these needs. It is a flexible model with existing community partners ranging from groups serving the needs of their town or village, others serving large urban areas of Dublin and others large rural areas. If expanded, this model could meet the needs of an ageing society.”