A victory for Home-Help Services

home_help_demoPeople Before Profit TD Gino Kenny intervenes to drive changes to the Programme for Government on cuts to Home-Help Services

In a victory for Carers and Care Workers, an intervention in Dáil Eireann by Deputy Gino Kenny, PBP Spokesperson on Health, has forced a substantive change in the Programme for Government. As a result, the Government has been forced to add a ‘National Review of the management, operation and funding of home-help services’, one of only two major changes in the Health section of the revised programme.

In a Statement on Health in Dáil Eireann on April 20th, Deputy Kenny intervened to highlight the cruel and unjust attacks by both Fine Gael/Labour and the previous Fianna Fail/Green governments that resulted in the cutting of over two million home-help hours to bail out the banks. These cuts imposed on vulnerable care workers and recipients are having a serious detrimental effect at a time when the demand was growing for more homecare packages due to an ageing population.

Deputy Kenny, who worked as a care assistant for 16 years, said, “I welcome the fact that this government has subsequently added a national review and will revisit the brutal cuts imposed on home-helps. Each year, 75,000 people need to avail of home-help services but the HSE admits that only 21,000 are benefiting from some sort of package. And the cuts are continuing, with homecare hours due to fall by another 50 thousand hours this year.”

Deputy Kenny added, “Disastrous privatisation of both public health and homecare services resulting in ‘care cramming’ has to be reversed. We urgently need to employ more care workers in properly-paid, permanent jobs with adequate training and support, medical cards for those receiving long-term care and the carers’ allowance increased. Our hospitals are overloaded yet because of these cuts to homecare, we have the crazy situation where frail older people face needless and prolonged stays in hospitals due to a lack of decent homecare services and it is causing great distress.”

“The reversal of these appalling and idiotic cuts and the proper funding of homecare should be a priority of this new government. The belated acknowledgement of this crisis in the Programme for Government is good, but I will be pressing the new Minister for Health on this issue until concrete action is done to address this issue.