The Government must immediately address the funding shortage in home-care if its late conversion to the Right to Home-Care is to be believed, said Social Democrats T.D. Róisín Shortall.

In advance of the Dáil debate on the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2016, Ms. Shortall said that services for older people have been neglected for many years.

“There are particular shortages of home care in the South East and in the Dublin region. Incredibly, waiting lists for home-care were already over 1, 000 in March/April last year with over 2,500 people on the list at one point. By any measure, that represents a fundamental failure of planning and funding.

Funding cuts and outsourcing over the austerity years have left only skeleton public services for home help and home care. It beggars belief that the Government can claim we can afford tax cuts, when vulnerable older people are left alone and without help for long parts of the day.

In this year’s HSE service plan, funding for home help and home care will not even keep pace with growing demand on these services – due to demographic pressures. €300 million was set aside in the 2017 Budget to deal with demographic issues across different Government Departments. Yet amazingly, no extra allocation was made for home help hours and only a paltry amount for home care packages.

The Social Democrats have long advocated that homecare should be a right in law. For that reason, we will be supporting Fianna Fáil’s Bill and hope it can proceed through the Oireachtas without delay.

In the meantime, it is critical that the Government puts its money where its mouth is and provides extra funding to home-care so that waiting lists are eliminated.”

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