Care package waiting list hits 847

Care package waiting list hits 847
Peter Winter


Peter Winter


Sunday 3 July 2022 9:13

THE total number of people waiting for at-home care packages has reached 847 across the Northern Trust area.
The figure was released to MLA Claire Sugden who fears more and more rural dwellers are being forced to stay in hospital or care homes while they wait for assistance.
Ms Sugden said they are being “failed by the system” and called for more funding for the domiciliary care sector.
Minster Robin Swann said a £23m financial boost announced in November would help expand a service that is currently facing very high demand.
Care packages aim to help people live independently in their own homes.
Carers may visit up to four times per day providing assistance with washing, dressing, cooking cleaning and management of finances
According to the figures released by Mr Swan, 498 clients of he Northern Trust are awaiting “full packages.”
A further 349 people are seeking partial packages.
East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden said the waiting list can be partially attributed to the health service's failure to increase fuel allowance for carers.
“The provision of at-home care packages is wholly inadequate across the whole of Northern Ireland, but with the extra costs involved in travelling greater distances, rural residents are being left with an ever more scant service,” she said.
“I have been contacted by numerous constituents affected by this – some of whom are unable to leave hospital, despite being well enough to, because of the absence of a care package.
“Instead of better enabling people to live in their own homes, the Department of Health is resorting to offering those in need of care free stays in residential, nursing and care homes across the country.
“This is hugely unsettling, disrupting and distressing for the person in need of care and their families – particularly as they often end up resident far away from their home town.”

In his response to Ms Sugden, Minister Swann pointed out that he'd announced additional funding of up to £23m for the independent domiciliary and wider social care sector.
“This additional funding has been provided with the expectation that providers will not only maintain current service levels, but increase capacity and be in a position to reach out, particularly to rural areas.”
He said the sector had been impacted by Covid and non-Covid absences while demand for packages has increased.
And he acknowledged that rising fuel costs were creating additional pressures.
He concluded: “I will continue to support the domiciliary care sector in their attempts to eet the current demand for packages of care in the community
“The local HSC Trusts are promoting direct payments as an alternative to traditional packages of care and we would encourage as many people as possible in the community to avail of this option.”
Ms Sugden however suggested that direct payments were not a long term solution.
“To give people the best and most appropriate care – and at the same time operating the health service in the most efficient way – we must facilitate domiciliary care by supporting carers better financially,” she said.
“A wholesale revision of our domiciliary care system is needed. People who are able to live in their own homes need to be supported to do so and for that to happen our carers need to be adequately funded.”

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