Written answers

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Department of Health and Children

Health Services

5:00 pm

Photo of Margaret ConlonMargaret Conlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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Question 134: To ask the Minister for Health and Children her plans for improvements which are needed to support carers (details supplied) including better community based dementia services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24549/07]

Photo of Máire HoctorMáire Hoctor (Minister of State, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State with special responsibility for Older People, Department of Social and Family Affairs; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Tipperary North, Fianna Fail)
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The development of Services for Older People, including the development of services for people living with dementia, is a priority for the Government. This is reflected in the funding committed to Services for Older People in Budgets 2006 and 2007. Last year, the Government funded the largest ever expansion in Services for Older People with a full year cost of €150m. This year a full year package of €255m has been allocated for Services for Older People. This gives a total of over €400m added to services for older people over two years.

Government policy in relation to older people is to support people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible and, where this is not possible, to support access to quality long-term residential care. This policy approach is renewed and developed in the latest partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

There is a complementary link between Government policy in the area of the care of older people and care for people with dementia. Both policies stress the need to provide support in dignity and independence, through the provision of appropriate services to the people concerned and their carers. The Government is fully committed to providing such support and service improvement, including the expansion of community and residential care services for people with dementia. This commitment is reflected in the additional funding of approximately €109 million in Budget 2006 and €82 million in Budget 2007 which was allocated to community supports for older people, including those with dementia. These supports include Home Care Packages, the Home Help Scheme and Respite Care.

The additional funding provided for Home Care Packages and the Home Help Scheme will further enhance the supports available to families caring for people with dementia at home. In 2006 a total of 2,000 extra Home Care Packages were provided at a full year cost of €55 million (prior to this date only 1,100 Packages had been in operation on a pilot basis). A similar increase in the number of Packages will be provided in 2007, benefiting some 4,000 people. An additional €21 million has been provided in 2007 to fund the cost of some 780,000 additional Home Help hours in 2007. This brings the total funding allocated to Home Helps to approximately €171 million per annum.

Among the areas where funding has been provided are day care and respite care which are an integral part of delivering a comprehensive community service for older people. Day care and respite care offer respite for family members and/or carers and provide social stimulation in a safe environment for older people with mild forms of dementia. The provision of an additional €9 million in 2006 funded a further 1,325 additional places per week in these centres, together with additional programmes for specific needs such as activity therapy. It also means that many day care centres can increase the number of days per week they open. Additional funding of €3.5 million provided in Budget 2007 will cater for a further 1,100 day places per week in day care centres.

The HSE has responsibility for the planning and management of capital projects in the health sector, including the development of services for people suffering from Dementia. The HSE's Capital Plan for 2007 includes significant investment provision to progress projects in the older people sector.

The Deputy may be aware that one of the key Government commitments in the national partnership agreement "Towards 2016" is the development of a national carer's strategy and this commitment is reiterated in the Programme for Government. The strategy will focus on supporting informal and family carers in the community. While financial support for carers will clearly be a key issue in the strategy, other issues such as access to respite and other services, education, training and employment will also feature strongly. Co-operation between relevant Government departments and agencies is essential if the provision of services, supports and entitlements for carers is to be fully addressed.

The Department of Social & Family Affairs has lead responsibility for the development of the Carer's Strategy and is currently considering how best to ensure all relevant Departments and agencies can be involved in the strategy. My officials in the Department of Health & Children will continue to work with their counterparts in the Department of Social & Family Affairs to progress matters.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
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Question 135: To ask the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the situation which exists in relation to occupational therapy services within the Health Service Executive; and the action she proposes to take to remedy the situation. [24554/07]

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
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Question 136: To ask the Minister for Health and Children the number of adults and the number of children waiting for occupational therapy assessments in each of the local Health Service Executive areas; and the number of occupational therapist posts vacant in each of these areas. [24555/07]

Photo of Jimmy DevinsJimmy Devins (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Sligo-North Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 136 together.

As the Deputy may be aware, an additional sum of €75m for revenue purposes was provided to the Health Service Executive for Disability Services in the 2007 Budget. This sum incorporates the 2007 element of the Government's multi-annual investment programme for the National Disability Strategy. This Strategy is committed to enhancing the level and range of multi-disciplinary support services including therapy services to adults and children with an intellectual, physical and sensory disability and those with autism.

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social, services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

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