Proposals to cut length of home help tasks
Fri, May 07, 2010
IRISH NURSES AND MIDWIVES ORGANISATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE: HOME HELPS will be able to spend no more than 10 minutes getting older people up and dressed in the morning and 15 minutes assisting them showering under Health Service Executive (HSE) proposals, the nurses’ conference heard yesterday.
The proposals have been drawn up by the HSE to cut down on the cost of home-help services.
Under the plan, now in draft form, the number of home help hours a patient will be entitled to will also be cut to a maximum of 7.5 a week, which can only be availed of Monday to Friday during office hours. The service would be restricted to medical card holders and home helps would be restricted to providing personal care for clients rather than also helping with house cleaning.
Nurses attending the second day of the conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation in Trim condemned the move.
They said it was clear from the timing of tasks in the draft document – which also stresses home helps will have just five minutes to change beds and 10 minutes to help a person with breakfast – that those who drew up the proposals were a long way from the people doing those tasks on the ground.
Marie Chambers, a public health nurse in Achill, said of the document: “It’s all about budgets and people don’t matter.” She said she had one disabled client and it took two home helps an hour to give her a shower. The timeframes were unreasonable, she said.
Patricia Barrett O’Boyle, a public health nurse in Mayo, where 50,000 home help hours must be cut this year, said timing tasks would allow no social interaction with clients. “It is a disgrace that the people we are all there for, the patient, has been lost.”
She added that if home helps no longer had the flexibility to clean up after an older client, the client could fall on a spillage and break their hip and end up in hospital. “Sweeping the floor is not going to make the country broke,” she stressed. Prior to this, clients were entitled to up to 11 hours’ home help a week in her area, she said.
The guidelines are expected to apply to new applicants for home help only. A HSE spokesman said the draft proposals were an attempt to standardise home help entitlements across the State “within available resources”. He added they were still in draft form but about 12 million home help hours would be provided to about 54,000 people this year.
© 2010 The Irish Times