People with dementia should have a right to be cared for at home as too many are ending up in nursing homes because a right to residential care exists, say the Alzheimers Society.
Ireland has the second highest proportion of people in Europe aged 65 and over in nursing homes and hospitals. Professor Eamon O’Shea from the NUIG Irish Centre for Social Gerontology has called for “a new Fair Deal for people living with dementia in their own homes” and a funding model that “promotes universality and fairness in terms of eligibility and provision”.
CEO of the Alzheimers Society senator Colette Kelleher said government policy is to support people to stay at home as long as possible, yet funding for home care has reduced by €11m.
“Continuous cuts to home help and home care packages are effectively funnelling people toward long-term, institutional care when many wish to stay in their own homes. Community care is grossly underfunded and people are simply not getting the care they want,” she said. The right to nursing home care under the Fair Deal scheme, means more people in nursing homes who don’t need to be there.
“People have a legal entitlement to long-term residential care under the Fair Deal scheme, while no such entitlement exists for home care,” she added.
The Alzheimers Society wants a €67m investment in home-care supports for people with dementia living in the community. It wants €36m in home-care supports to meet the needs of 1,400 people. Such supports cost about €500 a week. It is also seeking €31m in enhanced packages, worth up to €1,000 a week, to help 600 people.
The basic packages would provide supports for those in the early to mid-stages of dementia and the enhanced packages would keep those with complex care-needs out of nursing homes. The society says despite the allocation of €22m for intensive home-care packages for people with dementia through the 2014 National Dementia Strategy, only 133 people have benefited.
“This funding comes to an end in 2017 and we are therefore asking for €67m for home-care supports for people with dementia in Budget 2017,” said Ms Kelleher.
Senator Rónán Mullen: ‘My father has to be minded like a child’