FAMILIES desperate to get a break by securing respite care for their elderly or disabled relatives will now have to pay up to €175 a week.
The charges are being introduced from this week and the maximum charge of €175 will apply to people earning as little as €208 a week.
Everyone will be entitled to 30 days free care in a HSE facility but any time spent in hospital will also count as part of the 30 days.
A shocked full-time carer contacted the Limerick Post when he go the letter outlining the new charges this week.
The carer explained that his severely disabled wife, who is in her 70′s, is supposed to go into respite care for two weeks every ten weeks to enable him to cope with looking after her full-time.
“Because of her health, she is often in hospital as well, but even if she is not hospitalised all year, the cost of her respite would be €1,000. That’s if you can get a public respite bed in a HSE nursing home. The home my wife goes to has had its respite beds cut from six to one”.
The carer said he will be liable for the full respite charge as his payment as a full-time carer means he is marginally over the €208 threshold.
A respite grant of €1,700 that was previously paid to carers to get whatever services are necessary was cut back to €1,000 this year. “So those charges wipe that grant out completely,” the carer said.
The HSE said that the fee is being introduced to bring charges for respite care into line with other HSE care charges where 24-hour nursing is involved.