Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Families are propping up our biased care system for elderly'

Dr Eamon O’Shea Picture: Aengus McMahon
Dr Eamon O’Shea Picture: Aengus McMahon

Laura Lynott

The healthcare system is financially "biased" toward nursing homes for the elderly despite claims by the State that community-based care is favourable, the Citizens' Assembly has heard.

The Assembly, which has already drawn up recommendations on Ireland's abortion law, convened once again to discuss Ireland's ageing population.

Eamon O' Shea, personal professor at NUI Galway's School of Business and Economics, said: "Although current policy purports to favour community-based care, the funding system is biased in favour of residential care. Spending on home care services and supports was €345m in 2014 compared to almost €1bn on residential care.

"Home care provision is currently weak, relative to need, and distributed unevenly across the country.

"The result is that family carers bear most of the care burden and financial cost of providing care to older people living at home in the community. If families stopped caring, the care system would collapse."

Fashion designer Brendan Courtney, whose late father Frank (75) was buried last week, gained national attention for this issue earlier this year with his RTÉ documentary 'We Need To Talk About Dad'.

Brendan, from Tallaght, Dublin, told the moving story of how his family had struggled to gain access to the State's complex Fair Deal scheme.

The Department of Health committed to holding a public consultation on home care for the elderly in the wake of the programme.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy concluded the Assembly, saying: "I think we have all been struck by the intricacies within current practice in Ireland. At our next meeting, I will be asking the members to make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas on this topic and the work programme for the next weekend will be developed through this prism."

The Assembly will meet again on July 8 and 9.

Irish Independent

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