Home helps under pressure to fill the missing minutes
“I am worried sick at the thought of the budget,” the woman admits.
Bridie says many of her clients are depressed. “One said recently it would be better if they legalised euthanasia. They feel like such a burden. They watch programmes like Prime Time and hear all the talk about cuts. They are terrified about the budget and keep asking ‘do you think our pensions will be cut?’”
Mary, another home help, says that HSE officials have been out assessing one of her clients, an elderly man with dementia with a view to cutting his home help allocation from 45 to 30 minutes a day. “The poor man is soaked in urine every morning so has a shower every day,” she explains. “He used to go to a day care centre three times a week but they can’t handle him and that has been cut to one day. He knows me so I can handle him.”
Ann Gilmartin, who lives outside Sligo, says that after her husband had a stroke and she broke her hip they had home helps “falling over each other” and were getting five calls a day at one stage. Now they get half an hour, five days a week.
Her husband frequently gets mini strokes and has early stage dementia while Ann needs a walking aid and goes upstairs with difficulty. “I can’t tell you how wonderful my home help is and what she gets done in half an hour, ” says Ann who was a prominent Labour party activist .
“To be honest, we’d both be in a nursing home if she didn’t come as I could not manage. Why can’t the Government see that home helps are saving them money?”
Ann, who has noticed her husband become increasingly depressed, goes for physiotherapy once a week.
“I call it my sanity hour,” she said. “To be honest, I think it’s disgraceful what the Government is doing. I am really worried about the budget.”
In a statement, the HSE said that 11 million home help hours were provided annually at a cost of €195 million and it was hoped that savings of €8 million could be achieved by the end of December.
“However, it is the HSE’s intention that the impact of these reductions will be minimised by ensuring that services are provided in the first instance for direct patient care.”