Seanad debates

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Commencement Matters

Home Care Packages Provision

2:30 pm

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Go raibh míle maith agat a Chathaoirligh, céad fáilte romhat a Aire agus mar a fheiceann tú táim ag ardú ceist anseo maidir l'othar a bhfuil an galar néarón luadrach air atá insan ospidéal i nGaillimh le blian anuas.

I have raised this matter on many previous occasions and I know that the Minister of State has the details of the person to whom it relates. Motor neurone disease is incredibly debilitating and is absolutely life-changing for anybody who suffers from it. I was involved in a campaign with this person - he instigated that campaign on his own behalf - in order that he might have a tracheotomy operation, which he would see as a life-prolonging in nature. That campaign was very successful. A lot of fund-raising took place in the Galway area in order to support the person in question when he was released from hospital following the tracheotomy. The operation went very well and it was expected that afterward, once an agreed home care package was put in place and suitable nurses and carers were made available, that this person would come home and be able to spend the remainder of his years there. That has not happened unfortunately, even though the efforts of his family , particularly his wife, have been ongoing. It appears that there is a kind of stand-off between two parts of the HSE, namely, that which runs the hospital section and the primary care section. What will happen is that once this patient is allowed home from the high dependency unit, HDU, he will become a financial burden on the primary, community and continuing care, PCCC, system and the money will have to come out of it budget. The HSE has known about that for quite some time and it is time for a decision to be made.

The family has done a great deal of research. It is quite unusual for this to be done and I think it is to be welcomed that the operation took place because it certainly will help the patient in question and he is feeling better after it. Even though his physical ability is obviously deteriorating, his mind certainly is not and he is very much on top of the situation. His researched and costed potential care services that would be available to him in the Galway area. The PCCC in the HSE area initially estimated that it would cost something of the order of €750,000 to provide home care on a 24-7 basis. The family's research indicates that this could be done for a fraction of the money that was being asked, so they actually made a saving for the HSE in respect of the potential cost.

The person involved does not want to hold up a HDU bed as such beds are in short supply. There is pressure on University Hospital Galway but there is also pressure on the family to travel to from their home place to the hospital - it is quite a long round trip - each day in order to visit the patient. That is unacceptable. The person has young children of school-going age and he would like to be able to be with them on a daily basis.

I would like to find out what discussions have taken place between the Department of Health and HSE west. If discussions have not taken place, will the Minister of State intervene as quickly as possible in order to try to get the management at HSE west to sit down with the management of the hospital and of the PCCC? A decision must be made at some stage. Let it be made sooner rather than later so that the patient can go home and spend the rest of his life with his family in a proper care environment. This would also take the pressure off the family. I look forward to the Minister of State's response.


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