Health Minister and HSE Management show lack of understanding of Home Support needs. So claimed Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley speaking in response to letters received from Dr. James O’Reilly, T.D., Minister for Health and local HSE Management by Cavan County Council.
‘Last December, I raised the on-going callous cuts in Home Support at the Council Meeting. We agreed to contact local Oireachtas Representatives and the HSE Management together with the Minister for Health. The replies are disappointing.’
In a long and detailed reply setting out detailed statistics on national figures for the provision of Home Support Packages and Home Help Hours the Fine Gael Deputy Leader, Minister stated that the ‘focus is to identify those who are most dependant and require personal care services and maintain those by, if necessary, reducing the lesser dependent household duties such as shopping, cleaning etc.’
‘The Minister and the Department are choosing not to understand the needs of the old and dependent in our communities. Someone who is infirm wants to maintain their personal dignity as long as possible and will try to look after their own personal care but they do need someone to help with household works, cleaning, getting shopping, getting cloths cleaned and all those tasks which age and infirmity make more difficult. If someone is so dependent that they require Home Help to complete all personal care then one has to ask the question if living in the community is still an option. Minister O’Reilly is cutting the area that is most needed to allow people to continue to live independently and with dignify. This reply is a clear demonstration of a lack of understanding.’
Mr. Leo Kinsella, HSE Area Manager Cavan Monaghan replied to suggestions that Home Help hours had been cut in some cases to fifteen minutes stated that there are ‘no Home Help or Home Care Packages approved for a period of 15 minutes.’
‘I am certain that Mr. Kinsella would not knowingly misinform the County Council. However, the word on the ground is that there are situations where a worker calls to a house for fifteen minutes morning and evening. Clearly that timeframe is totally inadequate to look after anyone. I must presume that Mr. Kinsella has misunderstood the issue raised as the alternative is that he is not aware of what is happening in a key service under his control.’
Mr. Kinsella asked that anyone who had information on cases where unknown to him this situation has arisen to contact him.
‘I urge anyone who is now in receipt of these much curtailed Home Support Services to make their situation known to the HSE. It is clearly unacceptable. ‘
Concluding the Fianna Fáil Councillor noted that he had raised this issue in the context of the growing privatisation of the Home Support system, cuts to Home Help Hours and cuts in the Respite Care Grant.
‘Whatever is happening in the administration of these Schemes, whether the workers are from the HSE or the private agencies, on the ground, great work is being done to help the old, the disabled and vulnerable in our communities. I simply want the powers that be, Minister O’Reilly and the HSE to give the necessary resources to allow people continue to live independent and dignified lives in the own homes, in the own communities and amongst their own people.’