Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher says it is deeply frustrating for the 6,172 older people and their families who are waiting for funding for a Home Care Package from the HSE, with 266 people waiting in CHO 1 region covering the Northwest of Ireland.
Pat the Cope was commenting after the HSE confirmed that at the end of February there were 6,172 older people waiting for funding for a home care package across the nine community health organisation regions in the country.
He said “This is a staggering number of people, vulnerable people I may add, waiting for support that the HSE has already been deemed to be necessary. The system is clearly not working fast enough to meet the demands placed on it from the general public need for additional home help requests.
“The delay in these people accessing their home care packages is down to nothing more than a lack of funding on the part of the Minister for Health and the total lack of willingness on the part of the Government to put in place a mechanism of working which would be demand responsive and be fit to meet the demands placed on it for additional hours for those who urgently need these supports.”
The Donegal Deputy said he is also deeply concerned also by the very large numbers of people waiting in CHO 1 region which covers Donegal.
He added this is also a region which has chronic overcrowding in its University Hospitals and some of these delayed discharges could in part help the great need for beds in our General Hospitals.
“In many cases we have families attentively waiting for the loved ones to be discharged from Hospitals but cannot get home help approved fast enough to allow that to happen. As a consequence, many patients have to remain on in hospital until hours are approved for them – and this is simply just not good enough,” he said.
Pat the Cope added Home Care Packages are not optional extras in the lives of these people and their families.
They are, in many cases, the difference between an older people staying in their home, surrounded by family or friends, or living in a nursing home or other assisted living centre, he said.
He added “We know two things. One, there are better outcomes for older people when they can stay in their own home, and two, we don’t have the capacity in the nursing home sector to cater for thousands of extra people.
“The HSE needs to get its act together and speed up the processing of funding applications to ensure that delays are kept to the absolute minimum, and if there isn’t enough funding, make the case to Government that additional funding is required. It costs considerably more to look after an older people in a nursing home than it does to fund a home care package.
“The process of approval of a home help package and its implementation should be seamless and occur without any time delay or inconvenience to the patient or elderly person.”
Based on previous HSE costings, a home care package on average costs €8,900 per year, so to fund these outstanding applications, it would cost the state €55 million per year.
Pat the Cope said this is only a fraction of the cost if the same patients were to remain in public hospitals so therefore it is a no brainer to invest in home help when you compare this to the potential €320 million annual cost of supporting these 6,172 people in nursing homes based on an average cost of €1100 per week and it makes both social and financial sense.
“Ministers Daly and Harris need to decide how the State will continue to fund care for older people and most especially those who through choice wish to remain in their own homes – it is time this Government deals effectively in a joined up approach in dealing with care for the elderly and care for the elderly in their community rather than this haphazard and bureaucratic way in which it currently operates by Government,” concluded Pat the Cope.Tags: