Home helps despair at new rules
"The most savage cuts I have seen since I started".
That's how one woman who is a home help in Cork City described the HSE's decision to make cuts to home help services. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that if the proposed cuts go ahead, her job will become almost impossible.
"I have been working in this job for 26 years and I have never seen anything like it. It is unbelievable what they are expecting of us. We are basically being told that we have to go in to a person's home, have no interaction with them, help them with what they cannot do themselves and leave again. We are actually being told that we can not talk to the patients, it is ridiculous."
Last week, the HSE released details of cuts of €130m to health services, €10.8m of which will be through home help hours. This will involve a reduction of 5.5 per cent from the 11 million hours provided annually. There will also be a reduction of €1.7m through the reduction of 200 home care packages per month.
An intended cut of €10 million through the reduction of personal assistant hours for people with disabilities has been cancelled following Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, with Minister for Health James Reilly now seeking to make savings in travel and subsistence within the HSE's Disability budget.
The home help continued: "There's a human element to all this. These people are not just statues. How can I walk in to someone's house to help them but not have a conversation with them?
"We are being told that the patients have families and that it's not our job to talk to them but a lot of them do not have any family at all. I had one patient who had a fall nine years ago and she told me that her life was taken out of her hands after her accident but thanks to her home help her life was given back to her again. She said she felt like her life had been taken out of her hands all over again thanks to these cuts.
"We are being bound by the HSE and it is making my job very difficult. There is one woman I help whose doctor is across the road from where she lives and I am no longer allowed to help her across the road, how is she supposed to get over there now?"
The home help says that in 26 years, she, like all the other workers, has created habits in her job that she is now expected to cut out completely.
"These people are depending on us to help them, we serve a purpose and it is now being compromised by these cuts. We are not allowed to do our jobs properly and it is the people who need the help the most who are losing out.
"The cutbacks are being made in all the wrong places. The people making these decisions should be on the ground seeing who they are taking away from and what they are expecting from us, it is not right."
Private home help provider Home Instead Senior Care has also voiced concern about the proposed cuts.