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Targeting home help for cuts must be challenged – Sinn Féin to move Dáil Private Members’ Motion

22 June, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Commenting on the new revelations in today’s Irish Times Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Deputy Louise O’Reilly, has said government and HSE targeting of home help hours for cuts or freezing of hours is not only unfair, but makes no sense.

Teachta O’Reilly said Sinn Féin has put down a private members motion to challenge this decision.

Deputy O’Reilly continued:

"Care delivered in the home is the preferred form of care for most people and their families. The home help service is one of the best value for money services in the health service, and any health economist will attest to its value for money.

“This is immediately evident upon comparison with hospital or nursing home care. The average weekly cost for home support services is approximately €165, whereas the weekly cost of a hospital bed is €5,992 and the weekly cost of a nursing home bed is €1,048.

“There are currently over 6,000 older people on waiting lists for home help hours and thousands more in receipt of the service.

“Any cuts or freezes to the service will have a devastating impact on older people and their families.

“Indeed, when home care is lacking it results in a variety of negative consequences that can affect the health and well-being of older people.

“Without access to home care supports many older people have to pay for private care, rely on loved ones to provide unpaid care, or are forced to move to residential care settings which is often not their first choice thus undermining their human right to live with dignity and independence.

“Sinn Féin is not going to allow this to go unchallenged and that is why we have put down a PMB to challenge these decisions by the government and protect the home help service.

“We understand the value of the home help service and our message to the government is to find cost savings elsewhere and stop attacking our older people and the services they need and deserve.”

ENDS

Sinn Féin Private Members’ Motion:

DÁIL ÉIREANN 

“That Dáil Éireann: recognises: 

—  the invaluable work carried out by home help workers; 

—  average weekly cost for home support services is approximately €165; 

—  weekly cost of a hospital bed is approximately €5,992; and 

—  weekly cost of a nursing home bed is approximately €1,048; 

—  that travelling between clients is work and should be remunerated as such; and 

notes that: 

—  there are over 6,000 people on waiting lists for home help; 

—  the number of people over the age of 65 is increasing by over 20,000 persons a year; 

—  the proportion of people over the age of 85 is projected to double in the next 20 years; 

— the contribution made by homecare in assisting with tackling delayed discharges from hospitals; 

— that care delivered in the home is the preferred form of care for most people and their families; 

— the cost-effective nature of home support by comparison to hospital care and nursing home care: 

— that the best value for money is provided by directly employed and not-for-profit homecare workers; 

— that any form of co-payment for basic homecare is an additional burden which families should not have to bear in any form; 

— by 2030 the over 65 cohort will increase by 59 per cent, and the over 85 group by over 95 per cent; 

— the Economic and Social Research Institute’s report on Projections of Demand for Healthcare in Ireland, 2015-2030: First Report from the Hippocrates Model noted that demand for homecare packages is projected to increase by between 44-66 per cent by 2030, while the demand for home help hours is projected to increase by between 38- 54 per cent in the same period; 

— in spite of increases in home support, resources have not kept pace with demand for services; 

— the numbers receiving home supports in the community does not provide an accurate reflection of current and future need, with some older people opting not to apply as they know that services are insufficient to meet their need, as noted by Age Action; 

— unmet need is associated with a variety of negative consequences that can affect the health and well-being of older people; 

— without access to homecare supports many older people have to pay for private care, rely on loved ones to provide unpaid care, or are forced to move to a residential care 

setting which is often not their first choice thus undermining their human right to live with dignity and independence; and 

— research conducted by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service published in 2018, showed that while the level of funding allocated to home supports was approximately €450 million, the allocation to the Nursing Home Support Scheme, the ‘Fair Deal’ scheme, was significantly higher at €962 million; and 

calls for: 

—  immediate steps to ensure the viability and sustainability of homecare provision; 

—  immediate investment in a recruitment campaign for directly employed home helps; 

—  an investigation into the value for money provided by private homecare providers; 

—  the immediate elimination of any call-out which is below 30 minutes; 

—  how the job can keep pace with the changing demographics; 

—  making the job sustainable as a full-time option; 

—  guaranteeing fair terms of employment and rates of pay across the sector; 

—  a sectoral employment order; and 

— no reduction in the provision of home help hours and an end to the effective freeze on the allocation/recycling of hours; 

— an increase in the number of home help hours provided by directly employed homecare workers; 

— a Government commitment that any statutory entitlement to homecare will not place an additional burden in the form of co-payment for those who need the service; 

— the development of a system of time management and tracking to ensure that payments for travel time are calculated fairly and transparently and related to actual time travelled; and 

— the establishment of a working group or task force to examine the job of home help workers to look at: 

— how the job can be made more attractive to ensure the supply of a well- trained workforce; 

— ensuring services are deployed to meet the need of older persons.” — 

Louise O'Reilly, Gerry Adams, John Brady, Pat Buckley, Seán Crowe, David Cullinane, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Kathleen Funchion, Martin Kenny, Mary Lou McDonald, Denise Mitchell, Imelda Munster, Jonathan O'Brien, Eoin Ó Broin, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Maurice Quinlivan, Brian Stanley.

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