Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has criticised the government’s decision to freeze home help hours and said the decision makes no budgetary sense.

The Sinn Féin TD was speaking after his party’s motion challenging the government and the HSE’s targeting of home help hours to cut or freeze passed in the Dáil this afternoon.

Deputy Seán Crowe said: 

“Care delivered in the home allows older people to live with dignity and respect in their own home. We know that this has significant mental and physical health benefits to being unnecessarily stuck in a hospital or a nursing home. 

“Without access to home care supports many older people have to pay for private care, rely on loved ones to provide unpaid care, or are forced to move to residential care settings which is often not their first choice thus undermining their human right to live with dignity and independence.
“The home help service is also one of the best value for money services in the health service, and any health economist will attest to its value for money.
“The average weekly cost to the State for an older person to be looked after under the home help scheme is around €165.  Whereas if someone is stuck in the hospital and cannot be discharged home because of a lack of home help services, it costs the health service around €5,992 per week, or if they are in a nursing home, it costs around €1,048 a week.
“This is a large part of the reason that the HSEs targeting of the home help service makes no budgetary sense.  It is such a penny-wise and pound-foolish approach to making savings in the health service.”

Crowe continued:

“There are currently over 6,000 older people on waiting lists for home help hours – that’s 6,000 older people whose needs are not met. That is a ridiculous waiting list for a service which actually saves the HSE money in the long run.

“Care delivered in the home is the preferred form of care for most people and their families. It is also financially smart. The government and the HSE should be providing more help hours not cutting or freezing them.

“Any cuts or freezes to the service will have a devastating impact on older people and their families. Sinn Féin will not allow this to go unchallenged and I am delighted that our motion has passed in the Dáil this afternoon.

“The actions of the HSE here really constitute going after low hanging fruit and it needs to be called out.  The freezing of home help hours is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

“We need to invest in directly employed home helps and make the career attractive and ensure the sustainability of the service.”