Tuesday, 6 July 2021
Department of Health
As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.
Day centres are fundamental to the health and well-being of our older population and play a key role in enabling older people to live independently in their own communities. The pandemic and associated restrictions has had a profound impact across society and especially for our older population.
All Community Health Organisations through the National Older Persons Office were requested in April 2021 to provide information on the status of their Day Care Services in order to ascertain the level of service that could resume on receipt of updated public health guidance. As a result, it was intended that approximately 100 day centres would re-open week beginning 5 July. It was also intended that an additional 55 centres would resume in July and August, with a further 90 centres that require works expected to reopen before the end of the year. It was indicated that these dates may be subject to change as the HSE continues to deal with the significant challenge of the on-going cyber attack.
Since then updated Public Health guidance to support the re-opening of Day Care Services for Older People was provided in June 2021 to facilitate re-opening plans. Following on from this a further information request issued to HSE Services to obtain an update on re-opening plans. Their responses are currently being analysed and further detail regarding the re-opening of services is expected imminently. It is intended that the re-opening of centres will commence this month.
A Day Care Focus Group which was established in 2020 will remain in place (representative of both HSE and voluntary sector) to oversee the resumption of day care services and provide feedback in relation to both service delivery and users of the services.
While services may have to operate at a reduced capacity, initially, this is a huge step forward in the resumption of day centres for older people. It follows extensive planning by the HSE and has been made possible by the advanced stage and positive impact of the COVID-19 vaccination programme among our older population.