independent

Friday 24 October 2014

Government needs to think about older people when making cuts

EVA FARRELL LORETO SECONDARY SCHOOL

Published 11/04/2012 | 10:48

FOLLOWING our recent budget in 2011, Minister Reilly announced that the cut in the health service could be in the region of €853m, which would result in the closure of some small nursing homes and reduce numbers of home cares for elderly people.

At the same time while announcing these cuts, he asked the HSE to establish a special fund to pay for services and facilities that would allow more older people to remain in their homes, rather than being moved to long-term residential care. I am not a mathematician, but it would appear to me the maths do not add up. How can he reduce funding, but expect more services to be available to the elderly?

In a recent audit completed be the HSE it was found, in 1,200 common summary assessment reports on older people, that in 93% of cases the patient was recommended for long-term residential care.

Did all of these 93% actually need fulltime residential care? Or is it that our health professionals are aware of the difficulties in securing home care packages and home help hours and recommend what they perceive is the easiest option for families who have difficult decisions to make, and very little guidance or support in accessing services?

As a young person I feel all care-for-theelderly resources should have been left out of the recent budget cuts. I fail to understand how cutting nursing home places, cutting home help hours, and cutting home care packages in a time when our population is ageing and people are living longer was a good decision. Again, the maths do not add up. Isn't it amazing that the mathematicians of our society, i.e. the bankers, got it so wrong, yet funds that we should be directing towards the more vulnerable people who worked hard to create and nurture the society we live in go instead to fund the gambling habits of some of our banking institutions, and our elderly residents are left unsure of a secure future in whatever type of home they wish to spend the remainder of their days in.

As I enter my adulthood, I hope that if we come out of this recession, proper funding will be available to care for those who made our nation the strong country it once was. But in the meantime, I hope that somebody in government will see the light and consider our elderly when the next bank bailout is due.

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