Thursday, 29 September 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I will make a point before I start and I intend no disrespect to the Minister of State who is here. I have looked for this Topical Issue matter on a couple of evenings and it has been selected for this evening. The Minister of State, Deputy Butler, has responsibility for the area that I wish to discuss and I am disappointed I was not informed by the Ceann Comhairle's office that she was not available. The Minister of State is hard-working and this is in no way a criticism of my party colleague. She has been very helpful to me on a number of issues and I have been discussing the issue of dementia care with the her. We all wait for our slots in Topical Issue debates and it would be only proper and courteous that if the Minister with responsibility for that area is not available, we be told in order that we can wait for a time slot when that Minister is available. It is no disrespect to the Ministers of State who are present but Deputy Butler is the Minister of State with responsibility for dementia care. She is developing a new strategy for dementia care and it is to her I wished to make my points on dementia care in County Tipperary.
When a Minister is not available, the Ceann Comhairle's office should inform us of that and give us the opportunity, if we so wish, to wait for an opportunity for the relevant Minister to be in the Chamber. I make no criticism of the Minister of State, Deputy Butler. I have an excellent working relationship with her. This evening did not suit her work schedule, which I fully appreciate and accept, but I wish to make the point.
Dementia, unfortunately, is becoming an ever-bigger issue in our society. We had an historic budget this year that we have been talking about for the past number of hours. It includes €180 million for older persons. I give great credit to the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, for securing that in this year's budget. She has worked extremely hard to get her budget increased and has managed to do so for older persons in this year's budget. She has clearly stated that she wants to develop a dementia strategy following this budget allocation. I also welcome the announcement that a further €50 million of funding will be allocated to deliver a target of 24 million hours of home care in 2023. The Minister of State's priority and focus on development of dementia services and supports will continue. There has been an increase of 15% in new home-care hours ring-fenced for people with dementia, with a continuation of dementia home supports and continuing funding of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. This is all very welcome news that will be viewed positively by many families throughout the country who have loved ones living with dementia.
I will highlight a serious need for long-term care for people with dementia in my home county of Tipperary. While I appreciate and fully support the fact that we should care for older people in their homes as much as possible, there are times when this is simply not an option for families. The Minister of State, Deputy Butler, and I visited a dementia-specific nursing home village in Bruff, County Limerick, which is leading the way in dementia-specific care in that area.
I was most impressed by the standard of care in this facility, the resources available and the specialised approach being taken to the residents. It was top class.
That is what I am looking for for my county. I am aware the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, is developing the strategy. Both she and I were there that day at the village in Bruff and we saw the excellent care and the model that is there. I want to push with the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, for us to get that nationwide and obviously as a Deputy representing Tipperary I am looking for the county to host one of the pilot dementia village projects.