THE Health Service Executive and the Government have come under fire for closing down its home help scheme to new applicants.
The HSE’s homes help service has been largely closed to new applicants until next November at a time when there are more than 6,000 people on waiting lists.
The restrictions will put further pressure on acute hospital services as it will exacerbate the problem of delayed discharges.
The HSE said: “Between now and early November, we will have to restrict the number of new or additional hours allocated.
“The home support service will still be allocating some new hours, but not as many as we would like. We do not expect that there will be any change for current clients [if their needs have not changed].”
The HSE said while the budget “increased in 2019, that increase will not allow us to deliver an overall increase in the number of hours of care delivered, because the cost of delivering the service has increased”.
Jim Daly, the minister of state with responsibility for older people, said the home help budget had grown “50% in the past three years” but that demand was outpacing supply.
Mr Daly said the way to deal with it was to introduce a home support scheme on a statutory basis, similar to Fair Deal, the nursing home support scheme.
Solidarity TD Mick Barry slammed the plans to effectively close the scheme to new applicants for the next 5 months.
Mr Barry said: “There are more than 6,000 applicants on the waiting lists for home help services and the response of the Government is to block applicants coming into the scheme for the best part of half a year.
“On top of this, we learn from Minister Daly that the Government wants to start charging people for home help services next year.
“One consequence of these actions will be to delay the discharging of elderly and sick people from our hospitals thereby exacerbating the trolley crisis.
“There will be a storm of opposition if the Government decide to go down this road.”