Lack of home help driving elderly into nursing care


ALMOST 500 disabled or elderly people in the Mid West have not been allocated any home-help hours to carry out vital cleaning and assistance work, leaving some with no option but to go into a nursing home.

That’s according to information supplied to Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, who has described as “cruel” the fact that so many people are waiting for home help hours to be allocated.

The latest figures from the HSE reveal that 6,310 people nationwide and 448 in the Mid-West were on waiting lists for home help services at the end of April.

Deputy O’Dea said, “Over the past number of years we have seen the number of people waiting for home help hours increase significantly, but despite this, the resources have failed to meet demand leaving some service actually losing hours.

“Families across this country are angry and frustrated. Instead of allowing people to live and be cared for in their own homes, they are forcing them into nursing homes and hospitals.  This, in turn, is increasing the strain on our already overburdened hospital system.

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“The Minister needs to clarify how many people will be affected by these proposed cuts, as there is no doubt that any reduction in hours will push an already stretched service to the brink.

“I have met with many families who are at the end of their tether and deeply concerned that their loved ones will not get the care that they need.  This is a deeply distressing situation for them and simply should not be happening.  Home help services are essential, they must be maintained, and indeed increased”, Deputy O’Dea added.

In answer to a query from the Limerick Post, the HSEs Community Older Persons Service said that it “strives to ensure that the older person is supported at all levels to maximise quality of life and remain at home, according to their wishes for as long as possible through the provision of a range of supports.

“The growing demand for Home Support Services combined with the increasing complexity of cases and availability of carers in the community are ongoing challenges in service provision.

“While acknowledging that there is a significant waiting list in HSE Mid West Community Healthcare Area it should also be noted that activity levels from January to April show an increase in excess of 19,000 hours on the same period in 2018. Home Support Services were provided to 4,466 clients in the area during the month of April.