Marie from North County Dublin has had a home help carer for 18 years. Earlier this year she had this provision cut from 7 hours per week to 2.5 hours and last month this was further cut to two ½ hour slots on a Thursday and Friday morning.
Marie, who lives alone, has Osteoporosis, pathological fractures in her spine and has had mobility problems for over fifteen years. She has degeneration in her hips and is awaiting a hip replacement. Her medical condition causes her severe pain and greatly limits her mobility.
Fingal Home care informed Marie by telephone that her home help would finish the following Friday. They then asked Marie if her home help happened to be present, she was, so why waste money on another call; Marie handed the phone over to her carer who was then informed by the same voice that she would be out of work at the end of the week.
In August, Marie’s doctor, wrote to Fingal Home Care to explain the nature of her condition and expressed her belief that the cut to her home help was inappropriate. Marie received a letter in October which stated, “We have recently been left with no alternative but to cut the service to you. This action is being taken with a heavy heart and in full consultation with the HSE”. There was very little consultation with Marie and the advice of her GP, it would appear, was simply ignored. Age Action has said that they do not believe that informed, individual assessments are being made before home help hours are cut.
The estimated €8m that would be saved by cutting 600,000 hours to home help is a false economy; the costs of hospital and nursing home admissions would rise and as a consequence would cost the State more in the long run. The rush to privatisation will inevitably leave people like Marie behind. This amounts to victimisation of the poor and is an outrageous attack on the dignity of elderly citizens. And there can be no doubt now as to the privatisation agenda, the last line of the letter Marie received makes it clear, “please contact your area manager…if you wish to obtain support and home care through a private arrangement with our fully qualified, highly trained and Garda vetted and insured staff”.
This week we will hear plenty of arguments from the FG/Lab coalition about how they cannot tax the wealthy while they continue to destroy the quality of life for people like Marie. Enough is Enough join the campaign against austerity, no to privatisation, support Home Help/Home Care Action.
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