A well-known advocate for elderly people in Cork has called for a new government to prioritise the care of elderly people.
Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin reached an agreement on a joint policy document earlier this month, which they hope will lead to the formation of a new coalition government.
However, the current pandemic has taken precedence for Fine Gael’s leaders who continue to work with the HSE in limiting the spread of the virus.
Cork native Paddy O’Brien, organiser of the country’s largest over 60s talent show, has called for the new government for better representation for the country’s elderly and to take better care of the elderly population.
“You can judge a country on how it treats its senior citizens and our senior citizens should be treated better,” he said.
“We’re heading into the formation of a new government and I think it’s of vital importance that we have a representative in government for our elderly people.
“At the moment, the elderly are a voiceless section of the community who are not represented and there should be more provisions taken for the protection of the elderly.
“I came out 35 years ago and I called for a Minister for the Age. The farmers have their representation in government, the teachers, the nurses, the army, the children. There is no spokesperson for the elderly people in government and we should have a Department of the Elderly.” He said that public health nurses are “very thin on the ground” even during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, some elderly residents in receipt of home help services in Cork received letters from Kerry Community Healthcare, which The Echo has seen, informing them that their home help service would be ceased temporarily.
At that time, a spokesperson for the HSE said that the challenges posed by the pandemic saw the need to temporarily review the level of home support service provided to some people.
The spokesperson said that changes in home help services would apply to people assessed as being less reliant on the service and that the service would continue for people identified to have a higher level of need.
However, Mr O’Brien said that home help services are vital for ill elderly people and are the “only social contact” that elderly people who are living alone have.
“There are around 18,000 elderly people over 65 years of age across Cork city and county living alone and they are the people who have noone to talk to and need home help care which is their social contact.
“Giving elderly, sick people 20 minutes a week of care is unacceptable. What must happen is that a home care service is brought in where if a person is really ill that a home carer would stay in the house overnight.
“There are elderly sick people trying to administer medication and it’s dangerous. In some cases where people are very ill, I think it’s totally immoral for them to be left in the house alone,” he said.
Cork’s Over 60s Talent Competition which is organised by Mr O’Brien has been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
The largest over 60s event in the country was to celebrate its 44th year this year.