Thursday, 16 May 2019
Department of Health
Home Care Packages Funding
131. To ask the Minister for Health when necessary financial resources will be allocated to the HSE to eliminate the delays in providing home support for persons already approved for home help but awaiting provision of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21320/19]
Improving access to home support is a priority for Government. Over the past four years we have seen a considerable increase of nearly €140 million in the budget which has grown from €306 million in 2015 to almost €446 million this year.
This year the HSE intends to provide 17.9 million home support hoursto 53,000 people and intensive home care packages to 235 people.
Despite this significant level of service provision, the demand for home support continues to grow. The allocation of funding for home supports across the system, though significant, is finite and services must be delivered within the funding available.Preliminary data indicates that at the end of March there were 52,360 people in receipt of home support. During the first quarter of the year 4.2 million hours were delivered nationally, 4,411 new clients commenced the service and 6,238 people have been assessed and are waiting for either new or additional home support services.
I acknowledge that in some cases access to the service may take longer than we would like. However, the HSE has assured my Department that those people who are on a 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 and as determined by the local front line staff who know and understand the clients’ needs, and who undertake regular reviews of those care needs to ensure that the services being provided remain appropriate.
While the existing home support service is delivering crucial support to many people across the country, it needs to be improved to better meet the changing needs of our citizens. We are developing plans for a new statutory scheme and system of regulation for home support services. This will improve access to the service on an affordable and sustainable basis while also introducing a system of regulation that will ensure public confidence. The Sláintecare Implementation Strategy commits to the introduction of the new scheme in 2021.
In the meantime, the Department and the HSE are continuing to improve existing services, including in 2018 the introduction of a single funding stream for home support services. This is providing significant benefits including making the services easier to understand; streamlining the application and decision-making processes; and facilitating service users to move to changed levels of service as their assessed needs change, without the need for an additional application process.