ALONE Welcomes Elements of the HSE Service Plan, Cautions Against Rush to Privatise Services

HSE Service Plan announced contains commitments to older people,
charity says plan should have been more ambitious

ALONE, the charity which provides services for the one-in-ten older people in need of assistance, has welcomed elements of the HSE Service Plan published this morning, while commenting that the plan should have been more ambitious.  The charity is also noting that all commitments announced in the HSE Service Plan should be measured against the National Positive Ageing Strategy, which the HSE has said it will “work in implementing”.

The HSE Service Plan has announced an emphasis on an “integrated model of care with a strong emphasis on home care and other community support services….Our intention is to maximise the potential of older people, their families and local communities to maintain people in their own homes and communities within a sustainable model based on the principles of ‘money follows the patient’…..Our plan will begin the process of a strategic realignment of the model of care moving resource from the Nursing Homes Support Scheme to development of home care and community support services.”

CEO of ALONE, Seán Moynihan, noted that “ALONE has been calling on government for many years to have a greater focus on allowing people to age with dignity in their own homes, which is clearly a preferred and more cost-effective model than long-term residential care.  We welcome the commitment from the HSE to realign the model of care to focus on the development of home care and community services, an area in which we work on a daily basis.  However, we are conscious that the onus is being put on older people, their families and local communities to maintain people in their own homes – it is necessary to ensure that the quality of the home care that will be provided by the HSE for older people is of the highest standard.  It’s vital that the tender process for contracting of home care packages includes a mixture between private and public, and that all service provision of home care is consistent, and not a geographical lottery.  There is a rush to privatisation in the health service which needs to be stringently monitored.”

Noting the service delivery commitments on elder abuse in the plan, he continued, “One of the key performance indicators on elder abuse is to have 80% of active cases reviewed within a six month timeframe.  We strongly feel that this is an insufficient commitment and will have a negative impact on the people who are suffering elder abuse.  This commitment should be reviewed and a full 100% service level commitment in a short timeframe must be adhered to.”

Commenting on the commitments under the ‘Services for Older People’ section of the Plan, Moynihan commented “We don’t feel that the plan is ambitious enough.  The allocation of €23 million from the Fair Deal Scheme to community home care packages is inadequate and will only go to making a dent in the cuts that have impacted on home care in recent years.  With rising numbers of older people, structures need to change to support older people, their families, medical staff and other professionals.  We’re very concerned about the loss of public health beds, it’s important that these numbers are maintained as they deal with the most acute cases.”

ALONE works with the one-in-ten older people in need of support, providing a vital befriending service, permanent housing for 100 older people at risk of homelessness, and a community response service.  The charity works with over 150 volunteers and a small staff to deliver services.  Older people in need of assistance can contact ALONE on (01) 679 1032.