Seanad debates

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Home Care Packages Provision

10:30 am

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Senator for raising this issue. I am taking this matter on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Jim Daly, who has responsibility for this area.

Home supports enable older people to remain in their homes and communities, as well as facilitates a timely discharge from hospital. The Government has made improved access to home support services a priority. Progress is reflected in the additional funding made available in recent years with the budget growing from €306 million in 2015 to almost €446 million in 2019.

As outlined in the HSE's service plan for 2019, the executive maximises current resources, prioritising those requiring discharge from acute hospitals, and significant resources and services in 2019 have been targeted to facilitate them leaving. In winter 2018-19, the immediate focus was on reducing delayed patient discharges through mobilising the additional resources made available and ensuring that social care measures were effectively deployed to enable older people to move to a more appropriate care setting, including to step-down or transitional care in their own homes with the supports they need. At the end of July, almost 52,000 people were in receipt of home support, including those in receipt of an intensive home support package, and more than 10.3 million hours have been provided during the first seven months of this year.

Community healthcare organisation, CHO 5, provides community healthcare services to the people of Carlow, Kilkenny, south Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. CHO 5 continues to profile priority home support clients based on assessed needs and is working to provide services based on its priority profile. This year, €11.7 million was allocated to Carlow-Kilkenny for home supports. The target set was that the HSE would deliver in excess of 419,000 hours to approximately 1,460 people. As of 31 July, 1,469 clients receive home support and, on average, 43,515 home support hours are delivered in Carlow-Kilkenny on a monthly basis. Despite this considerable level of service, 152 clients are on a waiting list for new or additional services. As the numbers in the over 65 years age group are increasing, demand for new home supports increases, and as those in receipt of services are dependent, demand for additional supports for existing clients also increases. All those waiting are assessed and provided with a service, if appropriate, as soon as possible having regard to their assessed needs. In addition, people being discharged from acute hospitals, who can return home with supports, are prioritised.

The level of activity and associated cost of home supports in Wexford and the south east is monitored on an ongoing basis by the south east community healthcare head of social care and the general manager of services for older people. This is done to ensure that the people with the greatest needs are supported and that the overall expenditure on home support services by the HSE does not exceed the available funding.

The Minister of State, Deputy Daly, acknowledges that in some cases access to the service may take longer than we would like. However, the HSE has assured the Department that people on the waiting list are reviewed as funding becomes available to ensure that individual cases continue to be dealt with on a priority basis within the available resources. These cases are determined by the local front-line staff who know and understand the needs of clients. These staff undertake regular reviews of those cases to ensure that the services being provided remain appropriate.

I will come back to some of the questions.


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