Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has called for an urgent review of a new score chart which has been introduced to assess and allocate home help hours.  She wants to see a more flexible system, which understands the needs of individual cases rather than a “one size fits all” model.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “This new score chart is extremely crude and is based on a number of “risk factors” rather than examining the overall needs of the person.  All home help hours are allocated based on this scoring scheme.  According to the weighting structure, someone who lives alone is given the highest score of 4, however a person who lives alone but receives visits from family members only receives a score of 2.  The fact of the matter is that person still lives on their own, but because they may have family who live nearby they are not seen as having as much of a need for home help hours – which is a ludicrous conclusion.

“There are also serious staffing issues within the service – a number of cases have been brought to my attention whereby home help hours have been granted but there are no staff in place to provide them.  This is a major problem for families who are dependent on these home help hours and it’s deeply unfair.

“Home care packages are a central part of community health care. They allow older people, who may need assistance and support, to stay in their homes rather than having to be treated in hospital or in a nursing home.  This is the preferred option for the majority of older people and their families and all attempts should be made to provide this service.

“The current situation is simply not acceptable.  The assessment score card is too rigid and needs to be made more flexible.  Staffing levels and hours must also be increased.  These issues need to be addressed as a matter of priority. Older people have a right to be cared for with respect and dignity in their own homes and every effort should be made to accommodate this.  Minister Simon Harris and the HSE must find the necessary resources to ensure that home care packages can be provided to those who need them”.