Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at the government for their practice of leaving elderly people and those with disabilities to languish as prisoners in their own home.
Highlighting figures that show that the total budget allocation for Housing Adaptation Grants for Louth is down almost half a million euro on last year Deputy Munster raised the matter in the Dáil today.
Deputy Munster said:
‘We’re halfway through 2018 and there are already 267 applications so far plus 95 carried over from 2017 making a total of 362. The allocated budget will only cover 123 of these which means that Louth County Council will need extra funding of €1,840,004 to clear the remaining applications.
Despite claims in their Programme for a Partnership Government that they value and will facilitate the continued independent living in their own homes for the elderly and People with a Disability they are slow to release the necessary funds. Instead they leave hundreds of people to struggle for survival in their substandard homes.
This is reflected in almost daily representations being made in my Drogheda constituency office as in constituency offices all over the country by elderly and disabled people, or their families on their behalf, for downstairs bathrooms, stair-lifts, bedrooms or wet rooms to enable them to continue living in their own homes.
Additional funding needs to be released immediately to Louth County Council to clear these remaining applications.’
Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has issued a warning about fraudsters in the Drogheda area who are targeting the elderly and vulnerable people.
Cllr Flood who is also Chairperson of the Drogheda Joint Policing Committee was contacted by an elderly man’s concerned neighbours on Drogheda’s Northside after he was targeted.
Cllr Flood said “On Tuesday 22nd of August, three men in a white van called to this gentleman’s door claiming he needed his gutters cleared. They demanded an exorbitant €250 for the job which he paid because he felt coerced into doing so and after pretending to do the work they left without doing anything”.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story. Cllr Flood then related that “the next day two different men in a white transit van called to the same gentleman’s home and claimed he needed work done to his roof. Luckily, on this occasion, they were challenged by the elderly man’s neighbours who were aware of what had happened the previous day and they quickly left the area”.
Cllr Flood was concerned at the very deliberate targeting of this elderly man. “I am advised by his neighbours that he is now terrified that he will be targeted again.”
The Drogheda Councillor urged residents “not to agree to anything on the doorstep and to keep a particular eye on elderly and vulnerable neighbours who may be having work done. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, genuine tradesmen will be happy enough to answer any queries and identify themselves.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has welcomed the re-opening of the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme (HAGS) for 2017. Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly.
Cllr McGeough said “Applications will be accepted from the end of this month. The scheme is intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs. This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home.”
Following January’s full Council meeting, Cllr McGeough also welcomed an extension of the submission period. “Each year, the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme would open, be flooded with applications and then would close within weeks. I was told that his year the Scheme will be open all year round which will be of great benefit to citizens who were always waiting for this small window of opportunity to make a submission.”
Cllr McGeough is awaiting clarification from Louth County Council as to whether applicants from 2016 who whether they would be considered or would have to apply. Cllr McGeough was promised clarification very shortly.
Eimear Ferguson & Imelda Munster attended the meeting
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams recently met with the Margaret Swords, Group General Manager, of the Louth Meath Hospital Group and Angela McNamee, Director of Nursing, to discuss the impact of the National Service Plan on hospital provision for Louth County Hospital in Dundalk, Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda and Our Lady of Lourdes in Navan.The Sinn Féin leader was accompanied by Cllr Imelda Munster, Cllr Tomas Sharkey, and East Meath representative Eimear Ferguson and Drogheda representative Kenneth Flood.
The Louth TD said: “This was an informative and very useful meeting. Ms Swords acknowledged that the Louth-Meath group would see cuts to its’ funding as a result of the National Service Plan but said that these could be absorbed within the group’s current strategy. The Group General Manager said that there would be no cuts to services and outlined additional services that would be provided in the year ahead, including an ophthalmology service providing cataract operations in Louth County Hospital and an ongoing new build programme in OLOL that will see new operating theatres and a new emergency department.
“However Ms Swords acknowledged that that there are difficulties in moving patients through the emergency department as quickly as she would like into beds. Ms Swords revealed that of the 209 beds in the hospital 107 are occupied by patients over 75 years of age and 160 of the patients are over 65. Some of these patients have been treated but because they cannot go home without a home care package or there are no residential places, they are taking up beds which should be used for patients. The failure of the government to provide appropriate residential accommodation or home care packages have put OLOL under unacceptable pressure.”
Commenting on the situation Councillor Imelda Munster said: “It is clear from our conversation with the Group General Manager that the failure by the government to provide residential care for elderly citizens and the removal of Long Stay and Respite Beds from the Cottage Hospital in Drogheda in 2012 is adding to the burden on health service provision for the elderly. At the time the public was told that 16 transitional care beds would be provide in the Cottage hospital along with increased funding for Home Adaption and Mobility Grants for the elderly to assist those who want to remain living independently in their homes. Since then funding for the Home Adaption and Mobility Grants has been slashed from €80 million to €38 At the time there was a commitment to provide a new 100 bed unit in St. Mary’s Hospital on the Dublin Road before the HIOA standards come in to force in January 2015. There was been no application for funding in 2012 or 2013. An application for funding was made in recent months but there is no guarantee that the funding will be given”.
Jim Loughran – Outraged
Councillor Jim Loughran has this morning, criticised cuts to the Housing Aid Grant for older people which were introduced this year without any announcement from the government. Local authorities have been told that these cuts must be implemented immediately. The housing adaptation grant for disabled people will also be cut back.
Jim Loughran angrily said “These grants have been used by the elderly and disabled to make their homes more habitable e.g. replacement of windows and doors, the installation or upgrade of heating systems and for the disabled, installing hand rails, ramps etc. I hope that these cuts along with the fact that you must now be 66 years old instead of 60 to qualify will not lead to people having to leave their homes and I would ask that these measures be reversed immediately.”