Sunday 24 September 2017

Elderly face 'geographical lottery' over home help delays

The numbers waiting for the service in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo are also high with 346 elderly and people with a disability in the queue (Stock picture)
The numbers waiting for the service in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo are also high with 346 elderly and people with a disability in the queue (Stock picture)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

North Dublin, Cork and Kerry are waiting-list blackspots for people needing home help from the HSE, new figures reveal.

There are some 554 on a waiting list for home help on Dublin's northside and another 499 in Cork and Kerry.

The numbers waiting for the service in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo are also high with 346 elderly and people with a disability in the queue.

In contrast, there were no waiting lists in Kildare or west Dublin. Nobody was waiting in west Wicklow, part of the constituency of Health Minister Simon Harris.

The worst waiting lists for home-care packages are in Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare, according to the figures obtained by Róisín Shortall, Social Democrat TD for Dublin North West. The figures obtained by Ms Shortall show that despite the Government's winter initiative, 2,342 were waiting for a home care package at the end of December, compared to 1,400 a year earlier.

Another 2,039 were waiting for home help nationally.

She said there was a clear problem in the fair share-out of funding for home care in different regions.

"It seems to be completely random in terms of the allocation of resources. A geographic lottery has emerged for home help and home care packages.

"There is no logic or rationale to it. North Dublin is a stand-out area for waiting lists and at the same time we have problems with trolley waits in nearby hospitals."

There were 764 waiting for a home care package in north Dublin.

The figures include only those who were assessed as in need of home care - the numbers waiting to get on that queue are not calculated.

Ms Shortall, who is chair of the Dáil committee charged with coming up with a 10-year plan for the health service, said there had been too much emphasis on nursing home care when older people's preference was to stay at home with supports.

At the end of December 800 people were waiting for extra home help hours and 40 were on a list for intensive home care packages.

In response, Michael Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the HSE's Services for Older People, said the average cost of providing 6.5 hours a week in home care was €165.

Ms Shortall said this contrasted with the €1,200 weekly cost of a nursing home.

Irish Independent

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