'Means-testing for home care must remain fair'
A woman who takes care of her sick 83-year-old mother has said means-testing for elderly home care needs to be fair to people "living on the breadline".
Shirley Thornton (49), from Stillorgan, Dublin, accepts that some people could face paying towards home care under a new scheme introduced by the Minister for Older People.
She took care of both her parents until her father died last May. Her mother Eva, from Mount Merrion, has multiple health problems.
"I do think it should be means-tested, but the most important thing going forward is that the people who really are living on the breadline need to be protected," she said.
"There's a certain percentage of people that currently can contribute. Let's say even €80 a week might be nothing to some people - for a lot of people with a little pension, it's a lot of money."
Statutory schemes that support older people living at home are under growing pressure, a report revealed yesterday.
An aging population has put pressure on the HSE's home care package, which means many elderly people who want to live at home are on long waiting lists.
Ms Thornton said there was a suspicion among carers that the Government had tried to push elderly people into nursing homes.
"There's something very suspicious - we don't understand why there's such a push to get people in nursing homes when in a large percentage of cases, with the right intervention from the community and the right circumstances, as well as help from family members, people can live independently at home."
She currently receives 10 hours of care a week from the HSE to help take care of her mother.
"When you find yourself in this position, as anyone who has had to care for somebody [knows], you then get thrown into a system that is so badly managed and underfunded that you become a victim of it," she said.