No discharge for 76-year-old until home-help hours approved

Patrick Menton ready to go home since February, but cannot until hours secured

Patrick Menton (76) who has been  in Connolly Hospital since December.

Patrick Menton (76) who has been in Connolly Hospital since December.

 

Patrick Menton (76), who is in hospital since December 2017, has been ready for discharge from Connolly Memorial Hospital in Dublin since February.

However, he cannot return to his home in Palmerstown, Dublin, as he needs 10 additional hours of home-help a week. He had seven hours before he was admitted on December 23rd, but needs 17 to be safely discharged.

Mr Menton was initially admitted to St James’s Hospital, Dublin, last July with a bowel and bladder infection. He was discharged around September, readmitted briefly in November before being admitted to Connolly Hospital just before Christmas.

Having walked into hospital in July, he now needs help with washing, toileting, and with getting dressed. He is almost totally bed-ridden.

“The nurses are okay,” he says. “They can only do what they are told, and they come and chat, but at the end of the day I want to go home,” says Mr Menton. “The doctors are trying to get me a homecare package. The problem about going home, and it is a big part, is that I need day and evening attendance [from a home-help].”

No discharge

His wife Phyllis, who walks with a walking frame, could do some of the care, as could his daughters. However the hospital will not discharge him without two hours and 40 minutes of home-help a day.

“Of course I’m frustrated not being able to go home. There’s nowhere like your own home. I haven’t even seen my home since last year,” he says. “I miss being able to eat what I want. Here, the meals don’t vary from one week to the other. I think I’d be a bit of a nuisance at home but nevertheless, I’d be happier there.”

Mr Menton, a retired Dublin Bus driver, led a full life before becoming ill last year. “I used to enjoy going to the Silver Granite for a pint, talking to the neighbours.”

His daughter, Maria, describes as “very hard . . . watching him trapped in here”. He has a room of his own, which affords some privacy, but she says: “He is very isolated. You can see he’s lost weight, he’s got weaker and he’s depressed.

“It’s taking a huge toll on my mam emotionally and physically. She misses him . . . She can get a lift in most days, sometimes she has to get a taxi. That’s about €18 each way. To me, this is abuse of an old man by the HSE. He is isolated, being kept in a bed against his will. And it makes no sense. It must be costing about €1,400 a day to keep him here – almost €10,000 a week, for the sake of 10 hours home-help. Not to mention the other ‘Patrick Mentons’ in A&E who need his bed.”

Waiting list

In a letter to the family, dated July 12th, the HSE said: “We are currently operating a waiting list as we do not have funding available to meet increased demands for home care package or home support services. The HSE has escalated this matter to Department of Health level for consideration.”

A spokeswoman for the department said an extra €18.25 million was allocated to home supports in Budget 2018 and 52,659 people were getting home supports at the end of April.

“Despite this significant level of service provision, the demand for home support continues to grow. It is important to note that the allocation of funding for home supports across the system, though significant, is finite and services must therefore be delivered within the funding available.

“The level of funding available for the department in 2019 and the quantum of services to be provided by the HSE will be considered as part of the national estimates and budgetary process and national service planning.”