Seanad debates

Friday, 16 July 2021

Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages


9:30 am

Photo of Mary ButlerMary Butler (Waterford, Fianna Fail)

The point I continue to make is that there is no impediment in legislation or in practice to prevent a person who is receiving care under the fair deal scheme from leaving a nursing home. Recently, I worked on the case of a man leaving an acute hospital whose house was being reconfigured to support him with a downstairs bathroom and bedroom. He entered a nursing home for eight weeks and was then able to go home, which was great. This does not happen very often. I do know that. I have dealt with many people who go into a specific nursing home because their nursing home of choice may not have capacity at that particular time. They then moved to that other nursing home after 12 or 18 weeks when a bed becomes available. I would hate the message to go out that there is an impediment. There is not. People can leave. It does not happen very often because sometimes when people go into a nursing home they discovered they are very happy there and content. This is great to hear.

To go back to statutory home care, the successful development of the scheme is a key priority for me. It is a key priority in the programme for Government. My predecessor, Jim Daly, did a lot of work on the matter. When I do my job on a daily basis, it excites me. The two words I remember every day when I speak about older people are "voice" and "choice". Older people have a voice and they also have to have a choice. This is the most important thing we can do. This is why the statutory home care scheme will make such a difference.

Funding was secured in 2021 for the HSE to progress the roll-out of the interRAI, which is the standard assessment for care needs in the community. When somebody is assessed it is normally by a public health nurse or a GP. They then support the family with regard to where the person might be placed. The interRAI for care needs in the community will be standard in every CHO area and every county. We are recruiting 128 assessors at a cost of €9 million. That funding was secured in the budget.

We are also establishing a national office for home support services. This will be very welcome. It will be up and running before the end of the year. I hope it will be in the third quarter of the year. To have a national office for home support services for anyone with a loved one receiving home supports is very welcome. I want to mention something I secured in last year's budget which was very important. A total of €250,000 was ring-fenced for dementia specific care hours. This was the first time they were ring-fenced. It is very important to support people with dementia, especially younger people, if they want to stay at home.

Earlier, I spoke about the four pilot sites. A total of 230,000 hours of home support will be provided in these four pilot sites. I also secured funding for setting up an ICT solution for the continued roll-out of interRAI. A person receiving home care might have to go into an acute hospital or a nursing home. I want to have a system whereby we can log in to see where that person is. This came into sharp focus over the past year. There is no point in people turning up to deliver home care if the person has gone to hospital.I did a great deal of work on the roll-out of the vaccine to the housebound and the same concerns arose. Some 3,900 people were referred by their GPs for a vaccine. The National Ambulance Service went throughout the country. It was a difficult situation. In more than 700 cases, when members of the ambulance service arrived at a home, the person concerned was already vaccinated, had passed away, was in a hospital or a nursing home or did not answer the door. A lot of time was wasted. If this IT system was in place, that would not have happen.

The IT system, the recruitment of interRAI assessors and the home care office are all key enablers for the statutory home care scheme. This is a great opportunity for me to come in here, talk about this Bill and inform Senators that an enormous amount of work is being done in the background between the Department and the HSE. We all want the same thing. We all want the Sláintecare vision that the right care is provided at the right time and in the right place. We all want to see that. I again thank the Senator for her constructive amendment, which we will discuss at a later point.


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