There were 323 elderly people in Laois approved for home help in 2017, but 190 of those people are still waiting to be provided with hours.
Laois Sinn Féin Deputy Brian Stanley has today highlighted the "shocking" figures, which he gained in reply to a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Health and the HSE.
"These figures are shocking and clearly illustrate the shortfall in our care system. What really brings home the true extent of this crisis is out of 214 people put on waiting list last year, 190 of those are still waiting to get Home Help hours," Dep Stanley said today Wednesday March 14.
"This is an outrageous situation where elderly people who are vulnerable are left trying to manage in their own homes without the basic supports. Year on year this has continued to escalate. Most elderly people want to remain in their own homes and in the community. We should afford them their dignity to do so and provide the necessary supports," he said.
He said people are being "steered in the direction of private nursing homes which is becoming a booming industry", instead of being given home helps so they can stay at home for longer.
"This is a far more expensive option for the family and the taxpayer and it makes no sense from the point of view of the welfare of the elderly or from an economic point of view. An adequate home help service will also allow for more timely discharges from hospitals.
"When people can avail of the home care/home help packages that are available from the HSE, it is a very good service. In fact it’s one of their success stories but it clearly needs to be expanded. With the change of demographics and with the number of elderly people due to increase dramatically in the coming years, we need to put the structures and supports in place to cope with the increase demand," he said.
Dep Stanley said that Sinn Fein’s budget proposal in 2018 had costed proposals to expand the services and provide extra home help hours and home care packages.
"I’m calling on the Minister to revisit this area and make better use of the finances available,” he said.