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Home Care / Home Help

Nearly 15% of Vulnerable Older People in Difficulty Receiving No Help

Oct 26, 2012

Time to rethink “Fair Deal” and give Older People what they want


Home Instead Senior Care welcomes the CARDI report published recently which highlights the inadequacy of the current elder care system in Ireland. The report by researchers from Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast highlights the significant difference in care levels available North and South of the border with 14% of the Republic’s over 65s who are in difficulty receiving no help, compared to only 2% of those in the North.

With an additional 45,000 older people requiring care over the next decade the report states that every day over the next 10 years, an additional seven older people in the Republic, and two in Northern Ireland, will require long-term residential care or home help.

Significant differences were highlighted in the care available north and south of the Border. The report states there is clear evidence that the care assessment system in the Republic is less effective, since it leaves a higher proportion of older people with unmet care needs.

The report points out that, in Northern Ireland, there is a legal basis for home help services and an integrated system to assess a person’s need for care at home or placement in a care home. In the Republic, such assessment only applies in respect of the Fair Deal scheme for placement in a home. It acknowledges the compelling argument for the establishment of a legislative footing to home care especially given fiscal constraints and the rising demand for long-term care.

Ed Murphy, CEO, Home Instead Senior Care said: “The current system is grossly inadequate and unduly biased towards residential care in the form of the Fair Deal Scheme which accounts for almost €1 billion of the total €1.4 billion budget. Ireland currently has 7% of our elderly in residential homes, compared to 4% in the North and over twice as many as other European counterparts where the average is 3.2%.

Most disturbingly the Government’s own figures indicate that only one in five of those currently in nursing homes were assessed for home care and as many as 45% of those are low and medium dependency for which home care is a more suitable and cost effective option.

The Government needs to take action now and stop ring-fencing one type of care over another. Home Instead Senior Care know only too well that care in their own homes is the overwhelming preference of the majority of older people and not only this but it could lead to exponential savings to the State with an average saving per person of c. €86/ day (over €30,000 per year) in home vs residential care for those with low and medium dependency.” 

Ireland has an increasing ageing population with the number of over-85s expected to more than double, from 48,000 in 2006 to 106,000 in 2021. It is estimated that a further 50,000 home care arrangements will be needed by 2021. The CARDI report also highlights if care in the community and residential care are not developed appropriately, the pressures on the acute hospital system will be unsustainable.

Mr Murphy added, “A report from HSE this week on Delayed Hospital Discharges shows that there are 614 people occupying expensive hospital beds that are fit to go home. Nearly 90% of these are over 65s who cannot be discharged because they are waiting for funding or community services to become available.

At a conservative cost of €800 per night, delayed discharges are costing over €490,000 each night they remain in hospital. This could equate to over 23,000 hours of home care. We welcome CARDI’s report and that it has highlighted the need to develop care options. Home Instead Senior Care offers older people the choice of a quality, professional and trusted home care service so that they can stay at home for longer than would otherwise be possible, and research suggests if possible this is the preferred option”

The researchers conclude that the issue of care provision for older people on the island of Ireland must be urgently addressed to meet the projected rise in demand for long-term residential and home care.

Mr Murphy concludes, “Home Instead Senior Care will continue to respond positively to any increased demand for our services. We will continue to match Caregivers with older people so that the best care possible is provided, be it companionship, meal preparation, personal care, Live- In Care. The difference our Caregivers are making to quality of life of older people is incredible. Families of loved ones we care for also feel a huge sense of comfort knowing we have fully qualified, garda-vetted, compassionate caregivers supporting them when they have other pressures and commitments with perhaps work, children of their own, living in a different county, or country”