The Government's Seniors Alert Scheme is to have the living alone condition dropped.

The scheme has been providing free personal monitored alarm devices to people over 65 who are living alone.

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said the scheme provides personalised monitored alarms to older citizens to give them security and peace of mind in their own homes.

He explained that alarms, which are monitored for 24 hours, seven days a week, can be worn as a pendant or around the wrist like a watch, ensuring assistance is always available no matter where the person is in their house.

The department said all users have a base unit installed in their home which is connected to a national Seniors Alert Scheme helpline using landline or mobile telecommunications.

When the user activates the personalised alarm it puts a call through to one of a number of national call centres, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Its operator talks to the person in their home and decides whether to alert a local volunteer responder or, in potentially serious circumstances, the emergency services.

The scheme is means tested and for those who are eligible, the device is free and monitoring will also be free for the first year. It has in the past cost €65 a year for people with landline telephones.

Those interested in availing of the scheme can find contact details for the relevant group in their area at www.pobal.ie or by calling 01-5117222.

The Government will spend €2.3million on the scheme next year, the same amount as was allocated this year.