Sinn Féin TD for Louth and Meath East Imelda Munster has slammed the HSE for its penny-wise and pound-foolish policy in targeting Home Care Packages in an effort to cut costs.
Deputy Munster raised the case of a 50 year old man in Co Louth who has been waiting for 9 weeks in the step-down facility at Louth County Hospital in Dundalk having been hospitalised originally in March.
Deputy Munster said:
“I first raised this case with the Minister for Health and the HSE two weeks ago and the response I have today received from the HSE is that, ‘[a] business case totalling 26 care hours per week was submitted for approval. Regrettably the HSE is not in a position to fund the business case at this time.’
“Here is a perfect example of the human cost of the cost-cutting measures imposed by Fine Gael. It is an awful indictment on the government and the so called service providers and it certainly doesn’t follow best practice. The shocking response from the HSE and lack of response from the government in this case is beyond belief.
“This 50 year old man who has been languishing in a completely inappropriate setting in a unit with mainly elderly patients suffering from dementia for the last 9 weeks desperately wants to go home. He is in a fragile mental state as well as having picked up several hospital infections but was told over a month ago by his HSE social worker that a Home Care Package would be arranged for him but that it would take a couple of weeks.
However, as the weeks have dragged on he has become more and more depressed and has been seen by a psychiatrist because he is feeling hopeless at this stage. Despite the fact that his house has already been fitted out with all the necessary equipment by the HSE they will not now give him the 26 hour per week home care that he needs so that he can recover in the peace of his own home, because they cannot fund it.
“It is further evidence of this government’s inability to manage budgets, between the lack of funding arising in the first instance, and also because keeping someone in a hospital bed costs is much more expensive than paying for home help.
“It costs €5964 per week to care for someone in a hospital bed whereas to grant this man the 26 hours home care package that he needs would come in at approximately €546 per week.
“The decision to leave this 50 year old man in hospital is both illogical and irresponsible. Put simply, care delivered in the home allows vulnerable people to live with dignity and respect and it is widely known that this has significant mental and physical health benefits.
Balancing a budget by cutting home supports to older, vulnerable and disabled people is not acceptable. I will be raising this case once again with the Minister and the HSE.”