Monday 20 August 2018

Naughten to demand extra home help hours in Budget to reduce pressure on Fair Deal

Showdown: Denis Naughten is to meet Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tom Burke
Showdown: Denis Naughten is to meet Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

An increase in home help hours is to be demanded by Communications Minister Denis Naughten in Budget 2018.

The Independent TD is to meet Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe today to discuss his departmental priorities.

However, Mr Naughten told the Irish Independent he will also table a request for extra funding to keep elderly people in their homes.

He said even a small increase for home help hours could reduce the pressure on the Fair Deal scheme that subsidises nursing home care.

"These are people who have already been assessed as needing vital hours in order to remain in their home and community, but they can't get two to three hours' help," he said.

In his own Roscommon/Galway constituency Mr Naughten said an investment of €750,000 would deal with the backlog.

He suggested some flexibility could be built into the Fair Deal scheme.

"If it's cheaper for home help or physio surely it makes sense to fund that rather than a nursing home place.

"If it financially makes sense to keep somebody in their own home, why are we putting them into a nursing home?"

The Programme for Government includes funding for home help every year. Yet this year's HSE service plan only committed to maintain provisions at 2016 levels despite increasing demand.

Home help hours are administered by the HSE on the basis of need. They are often part of a home care package that includes various therapies such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

There is no automatic right to the scheme but it is not means-tested.

Meanwhile, a mobile cath lab was delivered to University Hospital Waterford on Saturday in a move that is likely to keep Independent Alliance John Halligan on board for the forthcoming Budget.

Mr Halligan has threatened to quit Government on several occasions in the past year due to a lack of progress on a second cath lab at the hospital.

The new unit will cater for between 30 to 45 patients requiring diagnostic coronary angiography per week from the current outpatient list and is expected to completely clear the current waiting list during its five months on site.

Mr Halligan said: "I understand around 30pc of people who were offered an appointment in Cork for their diagnostic angiogram in recent months turned it down, for various personal reasons, so I want to reassure them that the mobile lab is expected to completely clear the backlog at UHW while it is in place."

Irish Independent

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