Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health & Mental Health, Dr. Keith Swanick is urging the government to increase the hours of Home Help Service which is provided to older and vulnerable people nationwide.

Senator Swanick commented, “In Ireland over the next 30 years, the number of people aged over 65 will double and the number aged over 85 will almost quadruple. We are living longer than our ancestors could ever have envisioned, but inevitably as we grow old we will all experience ailments and disabilities which are part and parcel of ageing. Budget 2017 must take this reality into account.

“With an increasing and aging population now is the time to take action and make improvements to the service. Age Action has recently highlighted the crisis in community care and their published report based, detailed that as many as half of their clients in nursing homes, or on the waiting list for nursing homes, could be at home if the proper supports were provided.

“It was also pointed out that each Community Health Organisation, responsible for providing home care services, has its own system. Therefore, someone might be getting the home help they need in one part of the country but not be eligible for support on the other side of a HSE boundary. This lack of consistency in adjudicating the criteria for Home Help only adds to the stress experienced by the elderly and their families.

“The provision of Home Help services is imperative for families who are under strain from helping to look after a loved one who may need additional care. Fianna Fáil proposes to offer people a home care package as an alternative to long-term residential care. This will apply in circumstances where the provision of a home care package is less costly to the State compared to long term residential care. This not only benefits the individual concerned and their families, but also the State due to less demands being placed on long-term residential care services.

“Our health service is already under a huge amount of strain and failing to proactively plan for our ageing population now will lead to a crisis of epic proportions further down the line. Through Home Help we can empower older people to live a full and dignified life in the comfort of their own home.”