Thursday, 3 June 2021
Mental Health During and Post Covid-19: Statements
Patricia Ryan (Kildare South, Sinn Fein)
The pandemic has had a huge effect on the mental health of our older people. Over the last year I have spoken to many of the groups that represent and advocate for our older people. The stories they have told me are shocking. Our older people have been left behind by this Government. One older person described their time during Covid as looking out the window waiting to die.
Too much is being left to charities and non-Government groups with little funding offered to them. The little that is made available can only be accessed by jumping through hoops and wading through red tape. Many of the groups only exist because of the failure of the Government to provide the vital and lifesaving services that these groups are providing. I commend the work of groups like Hope(D) in Newbridge which is doing great work with little funding. The HSE refers people to this group but does not provide funding. We have spoken about this on many occasions. Only an hour ago I spoke to Terry in Hope(D) and she tells me that funding is urgently needed for core support. I ask the Minister of State to even meet these people to talk to them.
I am a member of the Committee on Budgetary Oversight and we heard last week that the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has concerns over the roll out of Sláintecare. This needs to be addressed immediately to make up for lost time. We need to prioritise in-home care and I appreciate that the Minister of State has mentioned that, which is important. Increased funding for the home help scheme must be delivered for all older people and we need to simplify the process for our older people to apply for assistance. I mention forms like the carers allowance application form. It is 40 pages long. It needs to be simplified. It is an onerous task to fill in and it must change. People cannot fill it out, particularly our elderly people.
I would like to speak about a sensitive matter. I will not discuss the details here but the Minister of State will know of the case I refer to and I commend Andrew McGinley for his bravery in discussing the matter. He is calling for a particular change which is a long overdue reform recommendation of a mental health working group from five or six years ago. Action is needed to allow for patient advocacy. A family member or a friend who is aware of a person’s mental ill health, their full treatment plan and medication can assist the person in coping with the difficulties that this presents.
I urge the Minister of State to meet with Mr. McGinley, Ms Una Butler and other families to ensure we see a change in this area as soon as possible.