Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has accused the Fine Gael and Labour government of not providing adequate supports for the elderly.
Speaking during a Fianna Fáil motion on long-term care for the elderly, Senator Cullinane said:
“We support the Fianna Fáil motion, but note that the motion makes no reference to that party’s own failings.
“The reality is that this state has consistently failed to provide adequate supports for the elderly.
“This occurred under various Fianna Fáil led governments and continues under Fine Gael and Labour today.
“This has been demonstrated by the cuts in home help hours and home care packages, the scandalous response to the illegal implementation of the mobility allowance and motorised transport grants scheme. It has also been seen in the lack of palliative care experts and hospice places and in the failure to provide adequate care for people with chronic diseases.
“The continued outsourcing of home help hours to the private sector comes with a deterioration of terms and conditions of employment for home help workers and, more importantly, a lesser service for clients.
“The pointed edge of this cuts agenda has been a drastic reduction in the number of public nursing home beds and the complete failure to prepare and implement a strategy to cater for the long-term residential care needs of our ageing population.
“Sinn Féin welcomes the publication of the National Positive Ageing Strategy and recognises it as a step forward.
“These goals are indeed welcome and worthy, but experience dictates that one must not confuse strategy with practice.
“We in Sinn Féin have long advocated a universal health system paid for through progressive taxation and delivered on the basis of need rather than ability to pay.
“This would be a huge undertaking but it would provide far superior care for our elderly than, for example, Minister James Reilly’s proposed multiple competing provider UHI model.
“We will need to be conscious that an ageing population will demand increased capacity.
“The importance of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our health services will be even more pronounced in the future.”