Woman (92) kept in hospital over lack of 'home care'
The family of a 92-year-old woman who has been in hospital for almost 300 days have hit out at the HSE for failing to provide a home care package which would allow her go home.
The elderly woman, who was hospitalised after fracturing her pelvis, has been cleared by her doctors to return home.
However, the HSE will not provide the necessary home care package needed to cover her additional care at home.
A family member said they are now facing the prospect of taking out a loan to cover the cost of a private nurse to assist.
"She needs additional care at home and we'll have to cover it somehow. If we don't get the care package we probably will have to get a loan to pay for the nurse, we're just looking at the figures now. The doctor was very good and didn't want to discharge her until the home care package was in place but we just don't know when that might happen," they said.
They added that the delay was causing anxiety for the elderly woman.
"She's not really keeping her spirits up. After almost 300 days in hospital she just wants to come home and who can blame her? Every day she asks what day she can come home. She's a little deaf so it's upsetting to have to be shouting this out in a ward with six other people," they added.
The family had been told the home care package has been approved but the funds are not currently available.
This is resulting in the elderly patient remaining in hospital at a cost of €7,000 a week compared to just €400 a week needed for the care package.
"The cost of keeping her in a hospital or a community home is huge compared to the cost of bringing her home. None of it makes sense," added the family member.
Local councillor Michael Kilcoyne hit out at the failure to provide the funding describing it as "leprechaun economics at its best".
"This woman has been in hospital for nearly 300 days. She's now at the stage where her consultant is ready to discharge her home and yet the HSE claim there's no money for the necessary package.
"This package would only cost around €400 a week while keeping her in hospital, taking up an acute bed, is costing €7,000 a week. It's an appalling situation and shows leprechaun economics at its best," he said.
Mr Kilcoyne said this was not the only such case brought to his attention, where patients are being 'failed' by the lack of the home care package.
"I've had a number of people contact me about the lack of these packages. One woman gave up her job to care for her sick mother. She now needs some additional help but none is available, she's been forced to consider moving her mother into a nursing home instead," he added.
A statement from the HSE said the Galway, Mayo and Roscommon area had been providing home care supports "in excess of the funded levels of service and is required to bring the level of service and expenditure back into equilibrium with allocated budgets."
"All Home Care Applications are considered by the Home Care Fora, which comprises of representatives from older people services and nursing. The Fora make decisions in terms of support based on client needs, underpinned by criteria standardised across the CHO. The allocation of care is focused on prioritised cases within available resources," it added.
It said that discharging patients from hospital is a decision made by the medical consultants and healthcare professionals at Saolta University Health Care Group.