A WEST Cork family has criticised the home help service after they were left on several occasions without a home help to look after their 93-year-old father who had come out of hospital.
The family, who wish to remain anonymous, told The Southern Star that they have been in a precarious situation for the last two and a half months having to take care of their father without the training and knowledge that a home helper would have.
‘Before we bought our father home from hospital, we thought it would be no trouble having three visits a day from a home help, but it never worked out that way as some agency staff never showed up,’ said the daughter of the man.
‘We, as a family, had to do it ourselves on several occasions over the last two months and it was very difficult as we’re not trained in looking after him as he has a hoist and you would need specialised training.’
Their biggest criticism was that the agencies which are employed by the HSE to carry out home help simply do not have the staff to carry out the work. ‘The big issue is that the HSE should be putting in local home help instead of using agency workers who in some cases have too far to travel.
Since making representations about their situation they have now been told that the local home help for their father from the HSE is supposed to start in the evenings from next week, with agency staff covering in the morning. ‘If it works out, it will give us some comfort, so we will just wait and see.’
Cork South West independent TD Michael Collins raised the issue in the Dáil before Christmas and said urgent action needed to be taken with home help, which he says is gripping both West Cork and beyond and that the promised service is not being delivered.
‘While there are millions being spent on the home help service by the State, there is a delivery crisis on the ground as many of our elderly are not getting a home help service,’ Deputy Collins told The Southern Star.
‘There are hundreds of families in Cork alone who are looking for a home help service and many more who are looking for an increase in hours for their loved ones at home, but they are being refused. This led to the question as to what is happening to the funds that are been made available and why is it hundreds of people are without a home help service in this county and up to 4,000 around the country.’
Deputy Collins also questioned the actual providers of the home help service: ‘Why are private home help companies being bought in more and more by the HSE instead of using the proven model of success of the local home help person from the same community?” he asked.
‘We are being told more and more that there are no personnel on the ground to cover home help and private companies have to be called in. But. having met with these local home help workers. they are more than willing to take on more hours. but they won’t be given to them,’ added Deputy Collins.
At the time of going to press, we were unable to get a comment from the HSE.