Seniors Alert Scheme Changes

This is the reply sent by Pobal to Councillor John Paul O Shea of Cork County Council and will give community groups an indication of what Pobal is planning in relation to the Seniors Alert Scheme. If you have any concerns or Comments please let us know.

 Dear John Paul

Thank you for your query on the Seniors Alert Scheme, I appreciate your concern in relation to the future operation of this scheme.  The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) and Pobal are working closely on how this scheme will transfer and operate in the future with the objectives of the scheme, the community groups and older people at the forefront of any changes that are introduced. 
I have addressed the majority of the queries you have raised below.  As the procurement process is ongoing and Pobal are working with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in transitioning the scheme, the level of detail I can give you in some instances is somewhat limited.  I would like to assure you that both Pobal and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government are committed to ensuring that the renewed scheme reduces the administrative burden of procurement on the community groups therefore enabling them to focus their resources on beneficiary engagement. 
  1. Under the new system, will community alert volunteers be allowed install new monitoring alarms?  As part of the invitation to tender, it is a requirement for the Equipment suppliers to install all equipment provided as part of the Seniors Alert Scheme.  This is to ensure that the alarm is installed in a safe manner and that all relevant quality and safety checks are undertaken.
  2. Can the older person/community alert group choose which company they purchase the monitoring alarm from? There will be a panel of suppliers in each of the 10 areas set out in the invitation to tender, the supplier will be chosen from this panel as part of the revised approval process.  This will be outlined in more detail as part of the transition.
  3. In the tender issued, it is specified that there must be a minimum and maximum battery life on the alarms?  As outlined previously, a series of minimum requirements including battery life (8hrs back up for the alarm itself and 3 years for the pendant) have been set in the invitation to tender based on extensive market research.  This minimum standard is a new requirement being introduced through this procurement process to bring a level of consistency across the board.  All tenderers proposing products which exceed the minimum requirements set out in the tender document will be awarded higher scores. 
  4. In the tender issued, what is specified in relation to an annual monitoring charge?  The current invitation to tender is solely in relation to the Equipment provided.  A panel has been advertised for Telecare Monitoring Service providers (this is publically available at this link ).  This is a voluntary panel which sets out minimum service standards.  It is solely to provide information, to the community groups and older people, on the costs and the services provided by the registered suppliers.  As is the current practice, it is the responsibility of the older person to choose their own Monitoring suppliers.  This panel is being put in place, in addition to the current approach, to ensure the older person has sufficient information at their disposal to make an informed decision.  They will be able to choose from this panel or a supplier of their choice.   
  5. In the tender issued, will there be an additional charge for replacement of alarms?  The Invitation to Tender deals with the procurement of new alarms; minimum warranty requirements (covering repairs and replacements for any faulty equipment) have been set out as part of this process.  Pobal will engage with community groups as the revised scheme becomes operational with respect to any requirements for replacement alarms. 
  6. What is the minimum and maximum coverage range of new alarms tender for?  As outlined previously, a series of minimum requirements including range with a minimum of 50m have been set in the invitation to tender based on extensive market research.  All tenderers proposing products which exceed these minimum requirements as set out in the tender document, will be awarded higher scores.  No maximum coverage has been specified.
  7. Can Pobal assure me that the tender documents issued meet the European industry standards for Social Alarms (EN50134/3:2012)  The current scheme, operated by the DECLG, does not set a requirement for suppliers to reach the European industry standards for Social Alarms (EN50134/3:2012).  Pobal has, in collaboration with the DECLG, set a series of minimum quality requirements based on extensive research.  We believe that the National Procurement process will enhance standards and provide more consistency across a range of suppliers and areas.  In the evaluation process suppliers who demonstrate higher than the minimum standard required will receive higher scores. 
8.      Is Pobal intending on consulting with Muintir Na Tire, Community Alert Groups and the general public on these changes. As mentioned previously, all policy related queries regarding consultation should be directed to the SAS team in the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. 

The procurement process is ongoing and the decisions in relation to this will be made in the coming months. As the process progresses, DECLG and Pobal will be in touch with the relevant community groups.


  1. In my view, if any of the above changes will be implemented, it will have a devastating impact on the older person in the rural community. Senior Citizens will simply not avail of the system under the new proposal as they will not trust strangers to come into their house to install the monitors under the new system. Therefore the older person will be constantly living in fear of the criminal, rebutting what Community Alert Groups were actually set up to do over 20 years ago.

    Furthermore, no consultation with community alert groups have taken place on this change. Can someone in charge please clarify if consultation will take place with community alert groups?? Also, no consultation has been done with Muintir Na Tire, which the community alert groups are affiliated to. Why not?? What are Pobal and the Government afraid of??

    This is a unnecessary burden on the older person, many of whom are struggling from a financial perspective. Furthermore, this will have a detrimental knock-on effect on the industry as a whole, because many elderly people will no longer be able to afford the monitoring charges and will cancel their systems.

    The changes proposed to the seniors alert scheme will have a terrible affect if implemented and it will put people’s lives at risk for the unnecessary lowering of standards. It will remove community volunteers from the decision making process, a contradiction to the purpose of the scheme.

    I am glad that a motion by Independent Cllr. Declan Hurley (West Cork) calling on the Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government, Alan Kelly TD to reverse his decisoon on the centralisation of this scheme to Pobal was unanimously supported by all 55 members of Cork County Council today. Let's hope the Minister listens now to the voice of the people of Cork!

    Cllr. John Paul O' Shea (Independent Councillor for the North Cork area)


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