Elderly people are being directed to private firms to get cover for weekends and bank holidays.
Elderly people requiring home help are being told to pay for private cover over weekends and bank holidays, it has emerged.
Cllr Paddy O'Rourke highlighted issues with the home help system at the recent Council meeting noting: “Many elderly people are finding themselves left with no cover at weekends and bank holidays and with only the minimum provided throughout the week.
“Appeals to the HSE are met with a recommendation to seek the services of private agencies to fill in the short fall. This is not acceptable and the result is inadequate home care provided may, in many cases, result in people going into long term care.”
Cllr O'Rourke pointed out the hospitals face serious bed pressures over the winter period and, by failing to provide cover for the elderly at home, people were being forced into hospitals and nursing homes.
“I know of one case where an 84 year old, who is unwell, was told they would have to pay for their own home help over the recent bank holiday weekend. This is a serious cost and this shortfall will have an impact on the well-being of our elderly. Some have no family or neighbours who can help if they can't afford to pay for care,” he warned.
Cllr O'Rourke asked Leitrim County Council to write to the Minister for Health and the HSE “regarding the gross inadequate funding of home care support. As we approach the winter, something has to give,” he said.
He also asked that any response be immediately passed on to members noting that the next full Council meeting in January, “will be too late to do anything on this.”
Cllr Mary Bohan seconded the motion pointing out that people wanted to remain in their own homes as long as possible.
“There is already a huge shortage of beds in nursing homes and there is a much bigger cost involved and yet we aren't providing proper funding for home help services to enable people to stay in their own homes,” she said.
“It is a great injustice and inhumane to force people into this situation.”
Cllr Finola Armstrong-McGuire said she feared there was a move to withdraw support for home care services. “This has been built up into an excellent service and now we are seeing it withdrawn. To have no cover for Saturday and Sunday is just incredible,” she acknowledged.
Cllr Brendan Barry and Cllr Des Guckian also added their support to the motion with Cllr Guckian suggesting inviting the Chief Officer of HSE Donegal/Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan, Cavan Monaghan, to hear councillors on this issue.