Paralympian challenges minister
A Paralympian has challenged health minister James Reilly to spend a day in a wheelchair before any more cuts are made to home care services.
Student Padraic Moran, who has cerebral palsy, said targeting Ireland's most vulnerable would send the country back to the Dark Ages.
The 28-year-old, from Bray, Co Wicklow, who represented Ireland in Boccia in London 2012, has 10 hours of personal care a week to help him in the mornings and with his evening meal.
He said: "I want the health minister to put himself in a wheelchair for a day and see if he can function and do the most simple tasks, like getting himself dressed or travelling on public transport. By cutting these services, they are hitting the most vulnerable in society. It has to stop."
The DCU student, who is studying communications, and works weekends at East Coast FM, said he would not be able to live on campus in Ballymun without the care funded by the state through Bluebird Care.
"I am pretty self-sufficient," he said. "I can't put on my shoes and socks in the morning and in the evening I need help to take my dinner out of the oven," he added. But if they keep cutting services, people will lose their independence and we will go back to the Dark Ages."
Elsewhere, the family of 88-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer Catherine Smith said she would not be at home in Ashtown, Castleknock, without her three hours a day of care from a familiar face from Communicare, which is also HSE-funded. The former hospice nursing assistant, who has survived bowel cancer twice, lives with her daughter Rosemary.
Rosemary's sister Brenda said: "If the hours were cut, she wouldn't be able to manage. Mammy had to go in to a nursing home recently for 10 days and it was really difficult to find a place and difficult for her in there. I just feel the standard of care she gets is payback for all she's given over the years."
Mr Moran and Mrs Smith came out in support of Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) as it called on the Government to address inefficiencies in the elder care model, which it claimed could save 280 million euro a year.
HCCI spokesman Michael Harty said: "Given that the HSE is currently 400 million euro in deficit, we call on the Government to urgently work to address inefficiencies in the elder care system and protect frontline services, through a more open and transparent commissioning system which will help save money, future proof the healthcare system and ensure that the most vulnerable in society are given the option to receive care in their own homes."