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Seven moved to nursing homes after HSE pulled their home help

   

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Seven people were moved into nursing homes at the height of the Covid-19 crisis because home help was unavailable due to the pandemic.

Three of the people who the HSE paid to temporarily move to nursing homes, which nationally suffered some of the worst outbreaks of the virus, are still there.

At the start of the lockdown, the HSE wrote to a number of people across the country to warn that non-essential home care was being withdrawn.

In some cases, people moved in with friends and family but others did not have anywhere else to go.

In May, the Irish Independent revealed that a 47-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis was moved to a nursing home where a number of people died from Covid-19 because her home help hours were withdrawn.

Documents released under Freedom of Information show that nine people who needed home help in March, April and May after leaving hospital were told they could be transferred to a nursing home instead.

One of these people was able to make alternative arrangements, but seven were sent to nursing homes. Of those seven, three are still in nursing homes.

Two of those people are waiting for their homes to be adapted before they can return to them, and the other is still waiting for home help hours.

Sinn Féin spokeswoman for health Louise O'Reilly said that even before Covid-19 there were 6,000 people waiting for home help hours to be increased.

"Throughout the pandemic home help workers were crying out for PPE so that they could continue their work safely. It's not enough for home help hours to be restored - additional hours are needed urgently," Ms O'Reilly told the Irish Independent.

"There are far too many cases of people in nursing homes when they could be happier and cared for at home and this needs to be the focus."

The HSE said that because of "significant challenges" posed by Covid-19 it had to reassess its operation of home support services nationally "to ensure that the assessed needs of those clients with the highest priority are met".

In March, the HSE told wheelchair user Joanne Mulligan (47), who lives alone in Co Kildare and has multiple sclerosis, that it could not cover the cost of her home care due to Covid-19.

She previously told the Irish Independent that she went through a "nightmare" after having to spend eight weeks in a nursing home at the peak of the pandemic.

When she arrived, she was assured there was "no Covid" at the home.

But within weeks, she learnt that 28 residents had tested positive for Covid-19.

Irish Independent