A 50-year-old man who wants to return home after spending nine weeks in hospital is unable to do so as the HSE has refused his application for 26 hours of home support a week.
The man, who is known to Louth Physical and Sensory Disability Team, is currently awaiting discharge from the rehabilitation unit at Louth County Hospital.
Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Imelda Munster, who wrote to the HSE on his behalf, received a response from the HSE on Thursday saying: “Regrettably the HSE is not in a position to fund the business case at this time.”
The business case submitted for approval was for 26 care hours per week.
Ms Munster described the HSE response as “shocking”, “illogical”, and “irresponsible”.
She said the man’s house had already been fitted out with all the necessary equipment by the HSE, but it would not fund the cost of him remaining at home.
“It costs €5,964 per week to care for someone in a hospital bed whereas to grant this man the 26 hours home care package that he needs would come in at approximately €546 per week,” said Ms Munster.
She said the HSE was “penny-wise and pound-foolish” in targeting home care packages in an effort to cut costs.
She said she first raised the case of her constituent with the minister for health and the HSE two weeks ago, but only the HSE had responded.
She said the man has been “languishing in a completely inappropriate setting in a unit with mainly elderly patients suffering from dementia, for the last nine weeks” and that he “desperately wants to go home”.
“However, as the weeks have dragged on, he has become more and more depressed and has been seen by a psychiatrist because he is feeling hopeless at this stage.
“Despite the fact that his house has already been fitted out with all the necessary equipment by the HSE, they will not now give him the 26 hours per week home care that he needs so that he can recover in the peace of his own home, because they cannot fund it,” said Ms Munster.
While the HSE’s home support services received €29m in additional funding this year, just €10m is going towards additional home support hours.
The balance of additional funding (€19m) relates to cost increases associated with the delivery of existing levels of service (€5m) and revised staff contracts.
The latter is costing €14m, towards the cost of compliance with the Organisation of Working Time Act and a revised contract for health care support assistants(HCSA), which entitles them to be paid for travel time.
The HSE has said while the budget has increased in 2019, the increase will not allow an overall increase in the number of hours of care delivered in parts of the country, because the cost of delivering the service has increased.
There are currently more than 6,000 people waiting for home support.