Minister of State at the Department of the Health and Children (Deputy Áine Brady): I thank Deputy Byrne for raising this matter. It provides me with an opportunity to update the House on Government policy on community services for older people.
The overarching policy of the Government is to support older people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Where this is not feasible, the health service supports access to quality long-term residential care where this is appropriate. Notwithstanding the significant overall economic pressures facing the country, we have continued to prioritise services for older people, as reflected in the additional funding of €10 million provided in the last budget to expand home care packages nationally. These packages often contain a significant home-help component, at individual recipient level.
In the HSE national service plan for 2010, approved by the Minister for Health and Children earlier this year, the HSE has undertaken to provide almost 12 million home help hours to 54,500 people, more than 5,000 home care packages to some 9,600 people, and 21,300 day care places, which we estimate cater for up to 80,000 people. Between 2006 and 2010, an additional sum of more than €200 million was provided to the HSE to develop community based services for older people.
Other important initiatives are also being undertaken at a strategic level. Arising from an Evaluation of Home Care Packages, published by the Department of Health and Children in December last, the HSE established a task group to progress this year various improvements in home care provision, including the allocation of home help hours to clients.
The Deputy will appreciate that all developments in the area of home care have to be addressed in the light of the current economic and budgetary pressures. The HSE has been asked to make a rigorous examination of how existing funding might be reconfigured or re-allocated to ensure maximum service provision is achieved. This requires a stringent ongoing review of the application of the resources currently available.
The HSE has operational responsibility for the delivery of health and social services. It is therefore incumbent on the executive to review, as appropriate, the home help service in Inchicore-Ballyfermot in the context of overall service priorities for Dublin West or the wider region. I understand that in 2009 the Inchicore-Ballyfermot Home Help Service received in the region of €2 million in funding. As with most other organisations being funded by the HSE, this service was written to earlier this year and was requested to operate in a more efficient manner. It is expected that after these efficiencies have been agreed, this home help service will provide in 2010 substantially the same level of service as heretofore.
Unfortunately, due to the current industrial action, this is the most up-to-date information available to me. I regret that I do not have any more information at present but if the Deputy wishes to raise this matter again once the current industrial action has ceased, I will have the matter re-examined.
The above excerpt is taken from the oireachtas website