The HSE Service Plan has ignored the crying need for additional home help hours across the country, and will ensure that thousands of older people will be left without the support they need.
The plan also ignores the Programme for Government commitment to increase the number of home help hours. Indeed, the 2016 Fine Gael manifesto pledged an additional 2.2 million home help hours over the next five years, so really we should have been seeing in the region of 400,000 being announced for 2017 if they were keeping to their own commitments.
The upshot of this decision is that further pressure will be put on the already stretched nursing home system as older people will not have the supports they need to stay in their homes.
Health professionals all say that outcomes are better for older people if they are able to remain their own homes, supported by home helps, and their families.
In addition to adding pressure to the nursing home system, a lack of home help hours will ensure that older people with chronic conditions will remain in the hospital system long after they are deemed able to go home.
The funding for the Fair Deal scheme has not been increased either, although the plan still estimates that more people will get it. Presumably this is to be achieved by the projected one month reduction in the average length of stay i.e. people dying sooner.
The HSE has failed to think strategically with their Service Plan for 2017. I am disappointed by Minister Harris’ failure to direct the HSE to invest more in this important area of Social Care despite a vastly increased overall budget.