Government home help support policy 'simply not good enough' - Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused the government and Minister Harris of pursuing a Home Support policy that is not good enough.
"It is not a policy to support and cherish vulnerable citizens. It is Fine Gael ideology writ large. It is a policy which prevents the Home Support Service from expanding in response to need."
Teachta Adams was speaking in the Dáil during a Sinn Féin Private Members Motion on Home Help hours and the Home Support Service.
The Sinn Féin motion comes after weekend media reports confirmed that the HSE is targeting home help hours for cuts as part of its efforts to close a €500 million hole in the health budget.
Teachta Adams said:
"The Home Help/Home Support service is the life-line many families depend on for older relatives or for citizens with disabilities, including those suffering from dementia.
"Without it many loved ones are forced into hospitals to occupy desperately needed acute hospital beds. Or into expensive nursing home accommodation. Away from the familiarity of their own homes.
"Without Home Support services many carers would suffer even greater levels of stress. Those who provide the Home Support Service are to be commended for their efforts. They are an important, sometimes the only, social contact with the world. Unfortunately, many rarely have enough time allocated to properly support our family members, our friends and neighbours.
"Home Supports is the preferred form of care for most people and their families. It is also one of the best value for money services within the health service. The Home Support Service costs approximately €165 a week. In stark contrast the weekly cost of a hospital bed is almost six thousand euro. The weekly cost of a nursing home bed is just over one thousand euro. There are currently over 6,000 older people on waiting lists for Home Support hours.
"There is a freeze on new home help applications. When I raised this in a PQ with Minister Harris I was told that I was wrong in believing that no new clients will be allocated home supports until November.
"Minister Harris said that the 'recycling of hours will continue, in line with budgetary management'.
"Minister Harris knows that this is not good enough. It is not a policy to support and cherish vulnerable citizens. It is Fine Gael ideology writ large. It is a policy which prevents the Home Support Service from expanding in response to need. And no amount of opaque language can disguise that.
"A constituent in Louth whose mother suffers from dementia is one of the lucky ones in receipt of the Intensive Home Care Package. She told us that at a recent meeting of the Alzheimer’s Society in Drogheda they were told that only 8 citizens in Louth have this Intensive Care Package. She also says that another 8 people are trying to access this package.
"None of this is news to the Minister or the government. A government really committed to equality and minding the most vulnerable of its citizens would ensure that the next Budget will adequately fund Home Support Services. You would develop a new statutory scheme and system of regulation for home support services.
"Unfortunately, Fine Gael is not that government and you are not that Minister."