€40m announced for home care services

It is part of an extra €500 million being allocated to the health service for 2016

€40m announced for home care services

Minister for Health, Simon Harris

The Minister for Health has announced an extra €40 million is to be provided to help reduce the numbers of elderly people on waiting lists for acute services.

€20m of that will be allocated to ensure that the 10.4 million home help hours, 15,450 home care packages, 130 intensive home care packages, and 313 transitional care beds provided in 2015 are maintained.

€10m is to ensure that the rate of service allocation can be maintained during the summer months, and the other €10m has been ring-fenced for home care as part of the new winter initiative.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Simon Harris said: "delayed discharges and waiting lists can arise when sufficient supports are not available for our older citizens in the community."

“Our population is ageing rapidly with advances in healthcare leading to a dramatic rise in our older population," he added. 

"There is now a stronger emphasis on home care and other community services which provide a greater range of options to avoid admission to acute hospitals, support early discharges, and, where appropriate, to rehabilitate and re-able patients after periods of particular difficulty.”

Through the extra fund, Minister Harris said they "are not only maintaining home care and transitional care services at 2015 levels, but increasing them".

He also acknowledged the “cohort of older people who require a quality long-term residential care option.  This must continue to be available to anyone who needs it.” 

The Minister was speaking as the health service received an extra €500 million in supplementary funding for 2016.

Simon Harris also confirmed that €31 million is being provided for people with disabilities, as outlined by Minister Finian McGrath last week.

This figure includes funding to cover costs incurred from compliance with national residential standards, services provided to meet the changing needs of people with disabilities, and the provision of emergency residential places.

€3m of that will be ear-marked for new initiatives, including an additional provision for services to meet the need of school leavers with disabilities and the anticipated cost of a number of emergency residential placements arising this year.

Minister Harris said: "There is an onus on us all to use this substantial resource more effectively and efficiently.  And most importantly, we must ensure that we are achieving real and significant improvements in the lives of people with disabilities."

€20 million taken from the mental health budget will also be restored, while another €40m will be given to a new winter initiative aimed at tackling the overcrowding in Emergency Departments.