THE population is growing older, with the number of people over the age of 65 years set to double and the number of people over 85 years set to treble in the next 20 years, Minister of State Jim Daly told the Dáil.
This, he said, represents an extraordinary challenge for us, but also an opportunity to tap into the wisdom, wit, company and friendship of our elderly and young people.
Speaking during a debate on a Fianna Fáil motion on the needs of older people, he said last year, the HSE provided 17 million Home Help hours.
‘The Budget in 2015 was €306m and it is now at €420m,’ he said. ‘That indicates a significant increase in the Budget over that period. Of course, that is not enough.
‘I have accepted that every time I have spoken on the matter in the Dáil. I acknowledge that it is not enough and that we need more. Yet 52,000 families have benefitted from home care delivery.’
Following the recent Budget announcement, he said, the HSE and officials from the Department of Health are in the process of developing and agreeing the HSE National Service Plan 2019.
The plan will set out in detail the type and quantum of services to be delivered in 2019, including services for older people.
‘In the context of winter planning, there has been a sustained focus in recent years on reducing delayed discharges and enabling patients to be discharged from acute hospitals sooner,’ he said. ‘The HSE is currently finalising its winter plan in conjunction with the Department of Health to provide the most effective response to the challenges to unscheduled care provision in the coming months.
‘The plan will contain a range of measures across hospitals, primary care and community care settings to manage critical demand pressures during winter to ensure the system is working at full capacity throughout busy periods.’