Home help hours could face cuts under new HSE plans to plug a 500 million euro hole in this years health budget.
The Irish Times reports a savings plan submitted by the HSE to government this year included a suggestion to reduce funding for home care packages.
The move has drawn criticism from Sinn Fein who say it would be unfair and wouldn't make financial sense.
Alone, the charity which supports older people to age at home, is calling for increased funding and improvements in the provision of Home Care services across Ireland.
CEO of Alone, Sean Moynihan, says it's a worrying development: "We're obviously concerned for the older people, for their family, their friends. We're also concerned because the whole system is working towards Sláintecare which will be underpinned by home care."
He emphasised the need for Government to consider the ways home care provision is of benefit to the health system. “This vital service is strategically important to enable people to live at home, and without sufficient funding for it, the aims of Sláintecare will not be achieved,” he said.
Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Deputy Louise O’Reilly, said, “Care delivered in the home is the preferred form of care for most people and their families. The home help service is one of the best value for money services in the health service, and any health economist will attest to its value for money.
“This is immediately evident upon comparison with hospital or nursing home care. The average weekly cost for home support services is approximately €165, whereas the weekly cost of a hospital bed is €5,992 and the weekly cost of a nursing home bed is €1,048.
“There are currently over 6,000 older people on waiting lists for home help hours and thousands more in receipt of the service.
“Any cuts or freezes to the service will have a devastating impact on older people and their families."