Laois/Offaly Labour Senator John Whelan has once again reiterated and renewed his support for home help workers and the vital service they provide in the community.
Senator Whelan repeated his assertion that the home helps were among the hardest working in the health sector and gave great value for money, quite apart from the comfort and care they bring daily to their clients.
Senator Whelan said that he remains diametrically opposed to ongoing and further attempts to undermine and cutback the home help services. He was speaking after he and local Labour Party community representative, Noel Tuohy, met with a delegation from HSE home helps led by SIPTU organiser, Dimma van Dulmen.
“The home helps made it abundantly clear to me the level and quality of cost effective care they provide every day throughout the community. They don’t just assist the elderly living at home but also provide palliative care and support for cancer patients, the disabled and special needs children.
“I am alarmed and furious to learn of personal cases such as one elderly woman who had been afforded home help three times a week to assist her bathing and this has now apparently been reduced to once a week. When challenged the HSE reply was that her nephews who lived nearby could help her.”
He continued, “This is inhumane and unacceptable, but it is the kind of thing that is going on I have no doubt. The distress that it’s causing is going to land more people in hospital and nursing homes. This will be at considerable extra cost to the Department of Health and the State, so the home help cuts are therefore dumb austerity and short-sighted.
“The HSE home help workers themselves are being treated very shabbily and are now being expected to assist clients in 15 minute time slots. It is not possible to get someone out of bed, wash and dress and get them a cup of tea in this time, much less care for them. A stop has to be put to this carry-on as it is not only callous but it makes no economic sense and will have no appreciable bearing on the HSE’s overall budgetary overrun as it targets €8m in savings under home helps services.
Senator Whelan said that the home help cuts are arbitrary and are not based on any genuine or realistic case by case assessment of need adding that the Department of Health should look elsewhere for its savings within the HSE rather than picking on the most vulnerable.
“Along with colleagues I will continue to make this case, support the home helps and press for resources to be restored to this sector in the upcoming Budget. Home helps too need their tenure recognised and I vigorously oppose the drift towards privatisation of home help care which seems to be favoured by some in the HSE and the Department of Health,” he concluded.