Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has described the lack of home help services for the elderly in Laois as a national scandal and said the Government was abandoning them in their time of greatest need.
“I have been contacted in recent months by a number of families of vulnerable elderly people who are approved for home help assistance but can’t get it as the HSE say they are on a waiting list.
"It is a sad indictment of this country and this Government when our most vulnerable and infirm citizens, who worked all their long lives, cannot access some home help to allow them to remain in their homes in their final years.
"New applicants for Home Help are placed on a waiting list of indeterminate length, provisionally allocated a few meagre hours per week and informed that resources are fully allocated. I am currently dealing with a number of cases where elderly people in their 80s and 90s are living alone and unable to look after themselves in their own homes.
"They are being denied assistance from the HSE to enable them to continue to live independently because of a shortage of resources and many end up in private nursing homes which have now become a booming industry. This is contrary to the stated Government policy and strategy for the care of the elderly.
"In one case I’m aware of, an elderly woman over 92 years of age who lives alone had her evening home help visits stopped. Her son now has to look after her cooking, cleaning and toileting needs as she is frail and incontinent.
"In another case an 88 year old woman who lives alone in Laois and unable to look after herself, has no family support in the county. She was hospitalised recently, then spent 2 weeks in a nursing home, and her sister has to travel a long distance to assist her. She has been trying unsuccessfully to get Home Help for 2 years.
"This situation is replicated throughout the country and we should be ashamed as a society that our vulnerable senior citizens are so shabbily treated. Meanwhile we are informed that the HSE have increased the number of Managers and Admin staff employed when front line staff are so badly needed.
"I have written to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to demand that sufficient extra resources are prioritised in this area in the upcoming budget to abolish this shameful waiting list for home help hours and to provide additional home help staff," he said.