Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has highlighted the escalating crisis in the provision of home care packages in Counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon with many families now losing vital hours they had previously been allocated.
Eugene Murphy raised the issue under the Topical Issues section of the Dáil business yesterday evening (Tuesday).
Deputy Murphy highlighted a number of cases in his constituency whereby people had requested additional hours due to a loved one’s condition deteriorating but the HSE actually took home care hours away from them rather than allocating extra hours.
Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee acknowledged that there was a difficulty in allocating additional hours but she expressed concern that hours were being taken away from people who need them. The Minister said that she did not agree with hours and support being taken away from people “who clearly need them and had been availing of them up to now” and she said she would examine the cases highlighted by Deputy Murphy.
“In an ideal world most of us like to think that when the time comes, we will have the means to care for ill or ageing family members, who given the choice, would rather be in their own homes than in a hospital or nursing home.”
“We have a crisis in the provision of Home Care Packages as hours and packages have been cruelly cut from those in our society who are most vulnerable. I was approached by a family in my constituency who were caring for their mother at home as she was terminally ill with cancer. They asked for more hours as her condition became worse, we asked for a review of this case to gain some more hours to help this family and when the review took place the family actually lost hours they had been allocated rather than gained them,” said Deputy Murphy.
Eugene Murphy also raised the case of a woman who is looking after her husband at home. “He needs two people with him at all times due to his condition. She and her daughter lovingly provide 24 hour care. They had been allocated a carer for four hours on a Wednesday so that one of them could do the shopping, collect the pension and prescriptions etc. Those hours are now gone from this family they are left with no help or respite.
“I know that the figures may say that there is an increase in some areas in the provision of hours but I assure you the amount of families who are looking for hours to be allocated has risen dramatically due to the overcrowding in hospitals and cost of nursing home care,” said Deputy Murphy.
“In most cases the family want to look after a person in the comfort of their home and might I add this saves the state a huge amount of money in the long term. However the way we are treating families and patients who are seeking home care packages is a disgrace in my opinion,” he continued.
The Fianna Fáil Deputy has highlighted the need for a statutory entitlement to home care rather than on a discretionary basis which is subject to funding. He has also called for Phase 2 of the Carers Strategy be properly funded and resourced.
“HIQA is closing down facilities but they are not being replacing with any other alternative. Families as a result are not able to get respite for their loved ones and this is causing major stress for family carers,” said Deputy Murphy.
“not sufficient time”
The Fianna Fáil Deputy also highlighted the fact that new Home Care Packages were only offering 30 minutes to families which is not sufficient time and is not enough time to carry out safe care.
Deputy Murphy also highlighted the case of a woman who is a full time carer for her husband but she recently suffered a stroke and has been in intensive care in hospital for a number of weeks. “Amazingly the HSE has only given this family a one hour package for someone to come in and look after this very sick man even though his wife was his full time carer- the tragic thing is that this family is not alone- there are hundreds more forgotten families like them throughout the country,” concluded Deputy Murphy.