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HSE recruitment freeze ‘hampering Alzheimer’s care’

The HSE recruitment embargo is hampering care for people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, the Health Committee has heard.

The head of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland warned of the impact the embargo is having on a new “game-changer” model of care, which was published last year.

Andy Heffernan said that many people struggling with dementia experience low mood, isolation and loneliness.

Ireland has the highest rates of loneliness in the EU, he noted.

More than twice as many Irish people experience regular loneliness compared to those living in Spain or the Netherlands, according to a recent European Commission report.

People with Alzheimer’s are particularly vulnerable, he added.

The number of people in the State with the disease is projected to more than double in the coming two decades, rising from its current level of 64,000 to 150,000 by 2045.

The majority of carers (63%) face significant challenges in accessing services, with a quarter of those having experienced “great difficulty” and having to “fight” to get support, Mr Heffernan said.

Carers frustrated, committee told

John Dunne, the chief executive of Family Carers Ireland, said that carers are frustrated at “a frequent lack of coherence” in services.

A “single integrated social care strategy” is needed if Ireland is to escape falling into “a postcode lottery,” he warned.

Mr Dunne gave an example of the sharp contrast in supports available in different counties located in the same administrative unit CMO 2.

While no county has adequate respite services, “Roscommon is probably the best resourced county for in-home respite,” Mr Dunne said.

But Galway and Mayo have “very little access to” these same, essential supports, he revealed.

“The budget is there,” Mr Dunne said, but pointed to a reluctance to rationalise services in those counties leading to carers being denied access to crucial services.

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