Home help assistance will see a reduction of up to 12,000 hours a month in Galway city between now and the end of the year, according to Galway councillor Catherine Connolly.
Ms Connolly who met with Catherine Cunnigham, manager of the primary care section in the HSE West recently, said the reductions were a result of budget restrictions and cut backs. It has also been confirmed that the provision of social care will be eliminated and that only personal care will be provided.
Currently the HSE West provides 79,000 hours per month to approximately 2,529 people in Galway with the vast majority of this number over the age of 65 years. Furthermore the demand is rising by about 50 people a month.
Cllr Connolly said the reduction of a further 12,000 hours with the restriction to basic personal care on an already over-stretched home help service is an obscured logic.
In this regard, the manager has confirmed that they currently employ only 400 home helps directly which is a significant reduction on the number of home helps employed four years ago.
Government embargos have prohibited HSE West from recruiting more home helps to respond to the rising demand, and there are no such resources to replace sick, absent, or retired home helps.
The diminishing of the home help service will result in increased admittances of elderly people into hospitals and/or private nursing homes. This will exhaust Government spending and prevent the elderly from leading an independent life.
Ms Connolly believes this will pave a way for private and profit companies to advance. In September alone, the HSE West paid out €84,000 to one private company in Galway city for the provision of home help hours.used by HSE West.
Cllr Connolly plans to raise this matter at the health forum meeting in Merlin Park in November and this will be complemented by a national movement led protest in Dublin later in November.