THERE will be a devastating impact on older people and their families from any restrictions on home help hours.
That is according to Sinn Fein TD Donnchadh O Laoghaire, after revelations by the the Health Service Executive that restrictions are being put on the number of new entrants to the home help scheme and on the allocation of extra hours for current service users until November this year.
Deputy O Laoghaire said: “The news that the HSE are curtailing home help hours represents a backward step and this decision will not only result in a loss of more money for the HSE, but it could also mean families will end up having to pay for private care for their loved ones. Every single day, we are hearing from patients who are in hospital but cannot be discharged because the HSE are not providing enough home support hours.
“Home help, in particular directly employed home help, is exceptional value for money and it enables elderly people to remain in their home or be safely discharged from hospital. Without enough home help being provided, patients have to remain in hospital which is a huge cost to the HSE, or else families are forced to pay privately for home help – both these situations are unacceptable.”
He said that if calls by Sinn Fein for a 10% increase in last year's budget for home support had been implemented, it would have “ensured that anyone who needed home help received that support”.
He added: “This government talk a lot about value for money, but when it comes to action they fall short.”
Yesterday, on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Junior Minister Jim Daly said that the best way to deliver home help is through a scheme similar to Fair Deal that will involve co-payment by service users.
This option was debated in the Dail on Wednesday and was met with anger by Cork Solidarity TD, Mick Barry.
However, Minister Daly said yesterday that demand for the home help service cannot be met. He said government funding for the scheme had increased by 50% in the last four years but the funds available cannot keep up with the demand.