Home helps to protest at cuts in hours and pay


HOME HELPS from across the State are planning to gather in Dublin’s O’Connell Street next month to protest at cuts to their hours and pay as well as Health Service Executive moves to privatise the home-help service.

About 50 home helps from Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Cork and Sligo met yesterday after they had been present in the public gallery of the Dáil during Taoiseach’s question time.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD (People Before Profit) questioned Mr Kenny on planned cuts of 600,000 home-help hours by the end of the year.

He also addressed a meeting of home helps in a nearby hotel at which it was agreed that a “mass mobilisation” would be organised for October 17th.

Mary Cleary, a home help in East Wall, Dublin, for “20-odd years”, said she was under pressure to spend a half-hour with clients where in the past she would spend an hour.

“You can’t tell an elderly, sick person to hurry up because you have to be somewhere else.”

Sandra O’Hara, a home help in the Marino area of Dublin for four years, spoke of the “increasing pressure all the time to cut down on the time with clients”.

She described the extra pressure since home helps have had to “clock in” and “clock out” by phoning in from clients’ homes when arriving and leaving. “It’s stressful for the clients too.”

Several home helps, including Mary Stephenson from Wicklow, spoke of the impact the entrance of private companies providing home help was having.

She said she and her colleagues had lost hours. When clients died or went into long-term care their hours were not being replaced by new clients but were instead being contracted by the HSE to private operators.

“We have zero-hour contracts. We are slowly being weeded out,” she said.