Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley raised the plight of those affected by cuts in Home Help Hours at the December meeting of Cavan County Council.
Attacking the actions of the Minster for Health, Dr. James Reilly TD and the HSE the West Cavan Fianna Fáil Councillor described the cuts at as ‘attack on the old and vulnerable in our communities.’
‘The on-going cuts on Home Supports for the Old and those with disabilities, together with cuts in the Respite Care Grant and indeed the other regressive cuts in Child Benefit and other essential payments made in Budget 2013 are a huge attack on families already struggling under the pressure of the current economic climate. These payments are a small recompense and acknowledgement of the efforts families are making to keep loved ones in their homes for as long as possible. Cutting the Respite Care Grant and the HSE cuts to Home Support are simply unacceptable and I call on the Council to make our views known to the CEO of the HSE, Tony O’Brien and the Minster for Health, Dr. O’Reilly.’
Referring to the ESRI, the independent economic monitor report on Budget 2012, which acknowledge that despite the cuts of recent years, that Budget 2012 was the most regressive of them all, and imposed the burden of taxes and cuts in the least fair manner.
‘Budget 2013 continues the right-wing philosophy of Fine Gael in attacking the most vulnerable with cuts. Across the country, Home Support Workers, weather they be employed directly by the HSE or through agencies are doing great work keeping people in their homes and allowing them to live with independence and dignity. Assigning a person to go to a house for fifteen minutes in the morning or evening is a pointless exercise, a waste of time and a waste of money. The HSE should stop this practice.’
Commenting on the increased use of agencies to provide Home Support, Councillor Feeley noted that there seems to be a move away from the traditional idea of a neighbour taking on the role of providing Home Help to a more full-time arrangement.
“I am concerned that in some respects the idea of Home Support seems to have evolved in an unintended way. It is impossible for someone to help an older person or a person with disabilities to get up and ready in the morning in fifteen minutes and to ensure they are washed and fed and have taken appropriate medication. It is impossible for a worker to get five or six people up in the morning and to bed at night. The entire system needs to be looked at to make sure we are giving those in need of this service what they need.’
“The issue led to much agreement in the Council but there were sharp exchanges in relation to the Budget 2013 cuts between Councillor Feeley and some of the Fine Gael Councillors.
Concluding, Councillor Feeley emphasised that the listing of long statistics about millions spent on this or that program was of little use to a person left with no Home Help, to a person left with fifteen minutes in the morning or evening and no weekend cover or whose Respite Grant has been cut. He called for the Government to take urgent action in the matter.