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Doherty expresses concern for 27,000 home help hours in Donegal

21 May, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has expressed concern that the HSE is set to cut almost 10,000 hours off the annual home help care for the elderly that is currently being delivered in County Donegal. Senator Doherty said the HSE currently budgets for 52,000 hours of home help in the County per month but carers are delivering 54,246 in order to meet demand. He has called on the Minister to ensure that the extra hours are incorporated into the HSE’s budget and not cut.

Senator Doherty said, “We have heard many times from the Government that it protects the old and vulnerable but the truth from what I am hearing on the ground in County Donegal is that this is not the case. I an my Sinn Féin colleagues in the County have been inundated with representations from elderly people, their families and their carers expressing concern at cuts in hours and services for the elderly.

“Home help hours are being reduced or services are being discontinued. I have heard of one case in which an elderly person who cannot get out of bed has had his the hour and half of personal care reduced to 20 minutes. In other cases the home help service has been discontinued at the weekend. Another example of the loss of services is the loss of the laundry service provided in the Manorcunningham area of County Donegal which has not been in operation since November.

“Many of these people have nobody calling to them except the woman or the man who provides the home help service. Many of these carers continue to provide the service in a voluntary capacity and should be applauded for doing so. However we cannot ignore the fact that our elderly need this service and should not have to depend upon the goodwill of carers. This service needs to be retained at least at its current levels.

“During a debate that I secured in the Seanad on this issue the Minister of State outlined to me that there are 2,246 hours per month or almost 27,000 per year being provided in Donegal which are not being budgeted for. This is the reason why we are seeing home help hours cut across the board in Donegal.

“These extra hours, amounting to almost 27,000 hours per year, should be incorporated into the HSE’s home help budget for County Donegal. The fact that they are currently being delivered makes it plainly obvious that they are required. The Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government must not take this vitally important service from the elderly people of Donegal.” ENDS

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