Ulster Unionist Councillor Darryl Wilson has described the treatment of our older citizens as diabolical after learning that care packages for the elderly see carers spending as little as fifteen minutes in their homes
As we approach remembrance day, many of us wear a poppy, and think of the brave service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in many conflicts including the first and second world wars. We owe our glorious dead a debt of gratitude for the freedom we enjoy today, however it is heartbreaking to see those who survived past conflicts now suffering in their later years due to diabolical treatment by the departments which are supposed to offer a top quality level of care to them.
15 minute visits, evening meals at 3:15pm, being put to bed at 5:15pm and not seeing anyone to 10 or 11pm the following morning are some of the harrowing and unacceptable accounts we are hearing from those who depend on domiciliary care.
I fully understand that domiciliary care teams are stretched to breaking point, and that the staff that does a fantastic job is under severe pressure as lack of investment means that the ever expanding needs of those being cared for at home are not being met. Over 25 000 people receive home care packages, the vast majority being over 65.
It is beyond belief that the NHSCT/ Health Department have proposed to close more residential homes including the Roddens, with the rationale that people should consider care at home, when domiciliary care is clearly well below standards which are acceptable .
I agree that the elderly and infirm should be given the option to receive care at home, care that meets their specific needs and fits into their day to day lives, this can work in tandem with an adequate level of statutory care home places for those with a greater need, step up/step down services and local respite needs.
In the last few days the outgoing Commissioner for Older People in NI, Claire Keatinge appealed to the Minister for “better quality, better planning and more investment in home care”. I fully support the advice given to the Health Minister by the outgoing Commissioner.
The Health Minister needs to look at his bloated bodies including the Health and Social Care Board, Business Services Organisation and Public Health Agency which have increased staffing levels by over 40% since 2011
Let this be a timely reminder to Mr Hamilton to wake up to the deepening crisis facing the care for our elderly. We must not only remember the fallen, but also care for the living.