More than 200 Galway pensioners are being denied more home help because of a shortage of carers.
It has been confirmed that 182 elderly people in Galway, who need extra home help, are waiting to be assessed or re-assessed for increased home help hours.
A further 31 senior citizens have been approved for extra home help but haven’t yet been allocated the extra carer hours.
They could be waiting as long as six months or more, according to a local TD.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) says a shortage of carers, and not a lack of funding, is the problem.
Home help is for vulnerable people, mostly elderly, who disability or illness, need help with certain tasks. A home help might visit for a couple of hours per day to help with housework, shopping, or sometimes may provide personal care.
Galway/Roscommon Independent TD, Denis Naughten, said home help is vital for facilitating people to remain living semi-independently in their own homes.
He has called on the HSE to speed-up the assessment process and to sanction carers to those in Galway who need them as soon as possible.
“These are older people who rely on home help in order to get dressed in the morning. They may have mobility issues and the home help would help them have a shower certain days of the week.
“The people who are awaiting assessment have applied for extra home-help hours because they have deteriorated, and their carers, often family members, cannot cope and need additional support.
“I know from speaking with people that they could be waiting over six months to get additional home help, and these are people who have been approved. How long are people waiting to be assessed?
“In theory, the policy is for people to remain in their own home but that’s not always the practice. It doesn’t make sense, from a care point or view or economically, to deny people additional home help. That will only force them into nursing homes. The home help system needs to be fully resourced and fully staffed,” said Deputy Naughten.
In Galway, there are currently 2,927 people in receipt of a home help service, including Home Care Packages and Intensive Home Care Packages, the HSE has confirmed.
It revealed that 182 people are awaiting assessment or re-assessment for increased home help hours with a further 31 waiting for an allocation of more hours having been assessed and approved.
“In County Galway the difficulties surrounding the issue of clients who are waiting for Home Help is not funding but it is largely due to a shortage of carers being experienced in many areas of the county,” said Siobhán O’Sullivan, temporary area manager for Galway and Roscommon PCCC (Primary Community and Continuing Care).
She added that “some agencies are currently in the process of recruiting staff and therefore it is hoped this waiting list will be reduced, in the near future”.