Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Section 39 Organisations: Motion [Private Members]
Section 39 health organisations provide vital health services to society and to local communities throughout the country. We cannot underestimate the services they provide. Those include hospices and disability organisations and other agencies, including rest homes. Those are unique to the south east in Waterford and Kilkenny and provide low to medium and medium care levels. There is one rest home in Lismore, St. Carthage's, and another in Waterford city, the Holy Ghost residential home. Those rest homes provide low and medium care for our elderly people who can no longer live at home on their own. They might be living in rural isolation, but they only need low to medium supports. They have a hot meal every day, a warm bed every night and they also have their medication handed out to them. It is a fantastic model. Only for the section 39 health organisations and a voluntary board this would not happen. The local communities also fundraise every year to support these activities.
The independent review group established to examine the role of voluntary organisations in health and social services has found that two thirds of disability services are provided by the section 39 sector. However, those organisations are enduring a funding crisis and there is concern about the viability of many organisations. The lack of resources is a common thread running through these organisations as they try to deal with increased demand with limited resources. Waiting lists for assessment and intervention have been allowed to spiral out of control under this Government and there are serious issues with staffing and access to residential care. This combination is resulting in families waiting months and, in some cases, years for help. We must realise that our health system would not be able to function without organisations such as the Pinegrove Day Care Centre in Waterford, which delivers much needed dementia specific, person-centred care to meet the needs of the person with dementia. Outreach support services are also provided for those with dementia who are not in a position to attend the centre.
I spoke recently with the service provider looking for supports for several constituents who had contacted me. However, due to funding constraints, only those deemed to be in crisis would receive the supports. There were many families in crisis but they did not meet the qualifying criteria. We have an ageing population, meaning more supports are required every year. The State needs to stop short-changing the voluntary sector and its staff when it comes to pay agreements.