Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that that confirmation by the HSE that it has an insufficient budget to deliver an overall increase in the number of home help hours for 2019 will have significant impact on thousands of vulnerable families. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the HSE said it has no other choice but to further limit the service following a nationally negotiated contract which will see health care support assistants (formerly known as home helps), paid for the time it takes them to travel to people’s homes:
“This move by the HSE is almost unbelievable in terms of the hurt it is going to cause families and those in dire need of home help care.
As I understand it, what the HSE have effectively said is that the entire home help scheme is now closed to new applicants until November. This is despite the fact that there are currently over 6000 people on the waiting list for the service.
Not only is it a cruel move, it also contradicts this government’s policy of ensuring that people are kept in the care of their loved ones for as long as possible.
The Minister says that the move is also down to the fact that there has been a significant increase in demand for the services. That is true. But what is also true is that government have known for at least the last eight years that we were moving toward an increasing population of older persons with clear home help needs.
I also find it somewhat alarming that the Minister for State, Jim Daly, has also indicated that the Home Help Scheme is set to move toward the inclusion of some form of co-payment.
This will need to be urgently clarified to ensure that further delays in accessing the services do not become even more problematic that they are at present.
The Minister says the co-payment model for Home Help will be based on something like the Fair Deal Scheme.
However even this government have accepted that the Fair Deal Scheme has been discriminatory and punitive for some sections of the population. We cannot have that approach replicated in the Home Help Scheme,” concluded Deputy McGrath.