Figures recently supplied to Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly show that some 6,458 older people were waiting on home care and help at the end of March. The corresponding figure for the end of 2017 was 5,418, representing a 19% increase.

The figures also showed that many Community Health Organisations were significantly behind target during the first quarter of the year.

Deputy Donnelly said, “Significant increases in home supports are required if we want to enable older people to continue living in their own homes. While some progress has been made it is clear that more needs to be done. As the HSE acknowledges, demand continues to grow and waiting lists for services have become a feature.

“Overall from January to March, the HSE missed its target for home support hours by around 40,000 – or around 1%. However, regionally the variations are extraordinary with four CHO’s having a variance of 10% or greater from their target.

“The West and North West seem to have missed the target quiet badly, coming in more than 100,000 hours under. Galway, Roscommon and Mayo also had the biggest waiting list at 1,482.

“North Dublin though came in almost 90,000 hours ahead of target but still has the second highest waiting list at 1,396.

“The figures also say that some 52,236 people were in receipt of home support. The HSE has now amalgamated home help and home care packages under the one umbrella of home support.

“While this may be administratively simpler in the sense of there being just one application process, there are significant differences between home help and home care packages. The former for example does not include any medical care. Furthermore, while pledges to increase home care packages had been honoured, home help hours in 2017 were still one million behind the 2010 level.

“In any case the key thing is that this is yet another service where the demand is far greater than the supply. The Government’s own capacity review says 11,000 extra home care packages and 8 million home help hours will be needed by 2030. Budget 2019 needs to make a start on achieving that.”