A Donegal TD has called on the government to ‘wake up’ to the home help crisis and address current delays for services.
Pat the Cope Gallagher has criticised a lack of increase in home help hours over the past year after learning of underlying policies in the HSE which impact allocation figures.
“It currently takes almost 14 weeks to avail of home help hours and even then it may well be just recycled hours from other patients that since then, may have passed on or moved permanently into care homes or hospitals. Very little new or additional hours have been in reality allocated,” said Pat the Cope.
The number of direct delivery home help hours in Donegal for 2018 was 736,345, up from 667,461 in 2017 and 670,931 in 2016.
The current average waiting time in the county is 13.8 weeks.
However, in a HSE response received by the Fianna Fáil TD, it was revealed that increased hours must encompass all and any additional costs, not just hours.
“This could include staff salaries, increments, training, annual leave, sick leave, recruitment, PPE etc. Any new or additional services must be met within the pay component,” said the General Manager for Services for Older Persons in the CHO 1 area.
Pat the Cope said he is ‘at a loss’ as to what is happening between the Department of Health, Government and the HSE.
He claims that extra hours were absorbed into increased running costs and other employment requirements, adding: “The reality is insufficient hours are being allocated in the broader scheme of things, whereby proper planning of the current demand and projected need is not adequately factored in before allocations are made, nor are sufficient extra hours allocated to meet the current demand of those employed within the scheme in order to meet the employment commitments.”
Deputy Gallagher said that home help schemes are “grossly underfunded” and “massively oversubscribed”.
“Demand grossly outstrips supply of home help hours and the situation is going to get worse unless the Government wake up the crises which is on their doorstep regarding home help hours and the service of providing assistance to those that wish to remain in their own homes as opposed to full time care in our community hospitals or care homes,” concluded Pat the Cope.