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Home Care services and need to open all bed in Abbeyleix hospital raised in the Dáil

Abbeyleix Hospital
Abbeyleix Hospital

Laois TD Brian Stanley raised the need to improve home care and open all beds in Abbeyleix Hospital in the Dáil recently.

The Sinn Fein TD made the comments while addressing the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnolly, directly.

Deputy Stanley said: “Sinn Féin’s proposal is to ensure that older people and others who need home support have it and can stay in their own homes and be cared for there.

“As the Minister of State said, we have more than 6,200 older people on waiting lists for home care assistants.

“That is an increase of approximately 11% this year. We also know that many more people have far fewer hours of support than they require.

“I compliment the Laois-Offaly Carers Association on the work it does, but the lack of community care alternatives has left approximately 7,000 people as delayed discharges from hospitals.

“That is not good enough. We need to increase the number of step-down beds to allow for a timely discharge out of acute hospitals.

“In this context, it is essential that all 28 beds in Abbeyleix district hospital, which is a matter I have raised with the Minister and the Ministers of State in the Department of Health in the past, are opened without delay. The fact that 21 beds have not been brought back into use more quickly is a scandal.

“A 2018 review forecast an 120% increase in the demand for home supports by 2031. Some of that demand has already been reached and is expected to grow.

“The shortage of home helps is pushing elderly people towards private nursing homes and acute hospitals when they should be in their own homes. Home care is the most cost-effective approach and is also the best for elderly people.”

Sinn Féin is calling for a proactive and strategic approach to be taken to workforce planning.

Deputy Stanley continued: “This is key right across the health and social care sector. We need to train and hire more home carers.

“The advertising of those positions is an issue and I have highlighted this to the HSE in the recent past. It is something the Minister of State might look at.

“This Government and previous ones have failed to plan for a sufficient workforce pipeline to address this.

“As the Minister of State correctly said, we also need to address terms of pay and conditions, which have harmed recruitment for home helps.

“Some 62% of home care is now delivered by non-HSE providers at a cost of more than €400 million in 2021. The use of agency staff has been shown to be more expensive – the Minister of State will have to agree with that – than providing care directly through the HSE, which means better-quality care and better conditions for workers.

“The over-reliance on private home care providers instead of investing in our public services is poor value for money.

“We need a new pay agreement for the sector. We must advance vital regulations for the sector and workers in it, modernise social care and improve pay and conditions.

“Sinn Féin’s proposals are designed to improve that sector for workers and the elderly. I hope the Minister of State will take them on board.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.