“It’s a pathetic situation to be in but that’s what we have to do,” said Fiacre Hensey, who heads voluntary service Clarecare.
Clarecare has been operating since 1968 and employs 400 home helps. It offers support to 1,000 clients and has a waiting list of 125 cleared to receive assistance. However, the service has been told to cut back on hours and home helps.
Mr Hensey criticised Government plans to reduce home-help hours and pleaded for a U-turn.
“Any further cuts could lead to even greater isolation with increased depression and other worrying risks among people receiving the service.”
He revealed that Clarecare managers listened to the daily death notices on Clare FM to see “if space can be freed up on the home-help service”.
The demand for Clarecare’s services is at “an historic high”, he said.
With Government plans to cut home-help hours, “there will be a lot of fall-out removing those hours”, said Mr Hensey.
“I am just concerned that the people making the decision have no real understanding of the frontline service and what it delivers, because if they had, they would look elsewhere.”
Clarecare agreed with the HSE this year to provide 180,000 hours of home-help in a programme costing €3.5m.
The local service employs 400 home helps on a part-time basis.
Earlier this month, the HSE advised Clarecare not to take on new clients or hours.
“The figures would suggest that we can keep seven to 10 people at home for the same cost as one person in residential care,” said Mr Hensey. “It is a no-brainer and the Government should be investing more in community care as opposed to less. That is why this move has shocked us.
With home helps, all part-time, paid €13 per hour, “there are no home helps taking home a load of money”, said Mr Hensey. “They might be paid for 10 hours but working 15.”