Irish Time Monday 12th June

Tackling ageism in society

Sir, – Like Prof Des O’Neill, I too didn’t realise that the Citizens’ Assembly had called for submissions for its deliberation on ageing (“Citizens’ Assembly can help us break free of the ageism that defines us”, Health, June 7th).
It is increasingly clear that older people are seen as a problem rather than an opportunity, and this is very obvious throughout the public service where a lifetime’s experience can be dismissed so easily. The fact that some people are forced to retire early while feeling as fit as a fiddle reinforces the attitude to older people. In some cases the rush to get rid of people with experience is breath-taking. How much better our debate around the provision of services generally would be if the experience of the years was put to good use, even to help support and encourage the younger generation.
The words of one Stephen Richards capture why it has become so much easier to ignore the elderly. “When we age we shed many skins: ego, arrogance, dominance, self-opinionated, being unreliable, pessimism, rudeness, selfish, being uncaring . . . Wow, it’s good to be old!” – Yours, etc,
Director of Services,
Alice Leahy Trust,
Bride Road, Dublin 8.

Letters to the Editor section Irish Times 22nd February 2017

“A Nurse’s World”

Sir, – The sentence “the author’s identity is know to The Irish Times” at the end of the two articles in the “A Nurse’s World” series speaks volumes and not because of the content of the articles.
The writer, I guess, is fearful for the future if she or he criticises or questions the system. It was ever thus in may areas of Irish life, but particularly in healthcare.
The two-tier system of nursing in’ place now for some time has done little to get across the importance of the nurse in providing compassionate care/ It would be considered old fashioned and uncool to refer to Florence Nightingale, but we should never forget Florence fought a lone battle with parliamentarian, army personnel and so many other to set the strong foundations we are now working from.
In highlighting what is wrong it is important that nurses note the socio-economic determinants of health and the environment in which health policy is made.
The Nurse who is well informed and who can look outside the box has, to my mind, a huge contribution to make to health policy. This too can make the work of the nurse more interesting and help provide the culture of powerlessness and victimisation that is clearly creeping into the discussion around the role of the nurse. – Yours, etc
Director of Services,
Alice Leahy Trust,
Bridge Road
Dublin 8.

Homeless should not be used by ‘research industry’ – campaigner

The director of one of Ireland’s oldest homeless services has warned the “research industry” against using the homeless “as its source of material”.

In an address at the Irish College in Rome, Alice Leahy, of the Alice Leahy Trust, said: “We must never forget that we are working with human beings, who for the most part have been battered by our society and who for so long have been pushed about as just another number in a cold inhuman bureaucracy.”

She said that “we know research is required, but we all know reports are gathering dust all over the place”.
She said that “sometimes the only hearing the people we meet ever get is when they are being researched”.
It was “an issue we have grave reservations about”, she said.

She said the homelesss represented “that section of our society which is the most vulnerable and the least able to battle for its rights”.

Ms Leahy said she took exception to the manner in which the death of Jonathan Corrie in December 2014 was exploited.

Mr Corrie was found dead in a doorway on Dublin’s Molesworth Street, across from Leinster House. It was claimed his death was due to homelessness.

However, last June the Dublin Coroner’s Court was told by Dr Christian Gulmann, a pathologist at the Dublin City Morgue, that there was no evidence of hypothermia in the case and that Mr Corrie’s death was caused by a multidrug overdose.

Ms Leahy said: “Jonathan’s name and story was recycled over and over again by media and various other groups any time the topic of homelessness was raised after his death.

“I can only imagine the pain this must have caused to his family, whom I know had tried for many years to help him in every way they could.”

She recalled how “seeing people congregate at his place of death on the first anniversary of his death and apportioning widespread blame was truly shocking. Dare I say he was unknown to many of those gathered there.”
She said that “there is a difference between houselessness and homelessness and no matter how many units of accommodation we provide, there will always be people who feel excluded and don’t fit in”.

Trust, a non-denominational body, was founded to provide homeless services in November 1975. It was renamed the Alice Leahy Trust in March of this year.

Located in a basement at Dublin’s Iveagh Hostel, it is funded entirely by voluntary contributions.
As part of its service, the trust provides bath and shower facilities and has been lobbying Dublin City Council to make public shower facilities available.

In the month of July last, it provided 299 showers and 269 sets of clothes, as well as 439 “consultations” for people needing help.