Government investment in home help must be delivered to older people – Naughten

In News, Older People by Denis Naughten

https://youtu.be/qaEmtacMmCs

Denis Naughten TD has called for immediate action to ensure that the money provided by Dáil Éireann for home help is used to increase hours available to support older people in their homes, not spent on administration.

“The fact is that we have seen a €140m increase in funding for home help since this Government took office but this has not been seen on the ground with a significant increase in home help hours,” commented Denis Naughten.

Speaking in the Dáil last night (Wednesday) Denis Naughten said: “The decision by the HSE to suspend the allocation of home help hours to older people and their carers for the next five months, contradicts this and the all-party Oireachtas Health Committee report, Slainte Care, on the reform of the health service in Ireland.

“We now have a situation where Government policy and Dáil Éireann are at complete variance with the policy actions by the HSE and we are told by the Taoiseach that Minister Daly is scrambling to gather the facts and is only set to meet with the HSE managers next week.

“The fact is that the HSE is completely unaccountable, making up its own policy and this has to be put a stop to. And the very first step is to reverse these cuts immediately.

“We have far greater demand for home help hours in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo than anywhere else in the country so any decision to restrict the allocation of home help hours will have a disproportionate impact on local families and older people.

“The fact is that this decision by the HSE will trap carers in their homes and leave them unable to access a break from the 24/7 care they provide. It will also lead to a situation where families will have no choice but to admit older people to long term nursing home care,” concluded Denis Naughten.

ENDS.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Speech below from Dáil debate.

 

Speech by Denis Naughten TD

On HSE home help cuts

Dáil Éireann 12th June 2019

Check against delivery

The maths does not add up when it comes to the HSE home help cuts.

Government funding in the Budget and the HSE’s own service plan commits to 50,000 home help (support) hours every day in 2019

But the decision by the HSE to suspend the allocation of home help hours to older people and their carers for the next five months, contradicts this and the all-party Oireachtas Health Committee report, Slainte Care, on the reform of the health service in Ireland.

We now have a situation where Government policy and Dáil Éireann are at complete variance with the policy actions by the HSE and we are told by the Taoiseach today that Minister Daly is scrambling to gather the facts and is only set to meet with the HSE managers next week.

The fact is that the HSE is completely unaccountable, making up its own policy and this has to be put a stop to. And the very first step is to reverse these cuts immediately.

The HSE it seems are now trying to say that they will be able to pay home helps for their time travelling between the homes of older people and still deliver the 50,000 hours that the committed to in their service plan from within the existing allocated budget.

How does this add up?

Home help is costing on average €160/week to keep an older person in their own home with dignity and to support the vital service provided to us all by carers.

If that older person is forced into a nursing home, this is costing us all €824/week on average. Five times more than keeping an older person in their own home.

How can this be justified?

While the home help budget has increased by 50% since this Government was formed, and rightly so, we have not seen a 50% increase in home help hours. Over the past three years Government has provided  a considerable increase of nearly €140 million in the budget which has grown from €306 million in 2015 to almost €446 million this year.

So where has this money gone?

According to the Taoiseach its not as a result of an increase in the older population or an increase in wages to home helps. So what has happened to that money.

Clearly, the maths just don’t add up and older people are suffering as a result.

While I was a member of Government I pushed for improved supports for carers and an increase in the allocations for home help hours. The decision by the HSE to effectively ban the increase in home help hours to those who require more support and suspend the allocation of home help hours altogether to new applicants is a major reversal in policy.

We have far greater demand for home help hours in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo than anywhere else in the country so any decision to restrict the allocation of home help hours will have a disproportionate impact on local families and older people.

The fact is that this decision by the HSE will trap carers in their homes and leave them unable to access a break from the 24/7 care they provide. It will also lead to a situation where families will have no choice but to admit older people to long term nursing home care.