Minister ‘ashamed’ at waiting list for home help hours

‘I am embarrassed and yes I am apologising for that on a daily basis,’ admits Jim Daly

Minister of State with responsibility for older people Jim Daly has said he feels "ashamed" at the waiting list for home help hours. The latest Health Service Executive figures show it has climbed to some 7,300 people.

This means numbers on waiting lists for such services increased by about 1,000 between April and July of this year.

Addressing a Home and Community Care Ireland conference on Tuesday, Mr Daly said recent years had been marked by significant investment in the service but that he was ashamed when he met people in the street who had been placed on the list.

“Yes I am embarrassed and yes I am apologising for that on a daily basis. And I wish I didn’t have to,” said Mr Daly.

In June HSE chief executive Paul Reid told his board that demand for home support could not be met from existing resources available to the health service.

Mr Reid said home support services for older people, funded by the HSE, are provided by directly employed home helps or by voluntary and private providers who have arrangements with the health authority to deliver these services.

“The type of support provided includes personal care and, where appropriate, essential household duties relating to the client’s assessed needs,” he said.

Mr Reid said over €445 million was allocated by the HSE this year to fund provision of 17.9 million hours of home support services to 53,000 people.

He said despite spending nearly €140 million in the early part of the year, at the end of April 6,300 people who had been assessed were waiting for funding for the provision of home support. He said 4,646 of these were new clients and 1,664 were existing clients who needed additional services.

What does the HSE say?

The HSE said this week that despite the provision of significant levels of service, demand for home support continues to grow.

“The main reason is the increase in our older population. As the number of people over 65 increases so too does the demand for home support as people become more dependent,” it said.

“As of the end of July, approximately 7,300 people are waiting on home support services. The majority of those waiting are living in their own home, a number of whom are already in receipt of home support but are awaiting additional support.”

All those waiting for home support, it continued, are assessed and provided with a new or additional service as soon as possible.

“People being discharged from acute hospitals, who can return home with supports, are prioritised.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times