A 97-year old Laois granny has been left struggling without promised home help because of HSE budget cuts.
The granny lives independently in her rural home where she has spent the last 70 years.
She was born on the day Michael Collins was shot, August 22, 1922. She married and reared seven children, and was widowed over 30 years ago.
Six of her children live in other counties, visiting when they can at weekends. Her son and his family live close by and help as best they can.
"Granny took her first turn on June 21 and another a few days later. Up to that she was cooking, washing, showering, everything herself.
"She got her pension and did her shopping every Friday and went to Mass on Saturdays,” her daughter-in-law said.
"Granny is a very private person. Anyone she could help she always did and she cost the State nothing all her life," she said.
The elderly lady has osteoporosis and fractured her back in two places after she fell eight weeks ago.
She spent several weeks in hospital, and two more in recovery in a nursing home. Now she is back home, but is wearing a brace and is unable to get about on her own.
Her granddaughter lives with her to help with personal care but returns to college next week. Her son and daughter-in-law work full time.
"My mother doesn’t want me to help her shower naturally. We try to do as much as we can after work. I’ll have to consider giving up work if she doesn’t get home help in the next fortnight," her son said.
The HSE first offered one hour of home help five days a week.
After her family pleaded for more, it was raised to an hour's help every morning and evening. However nobody has come.
"They bumped it up to 14 hours but it makes no difference, there is no money for anyone," her son said.
He wrote to Minister Simon Harris to ask for help.
"All we want is what she was promised," he said.
The granny does not want to be put in a nursing home.
“She has all her senses. She reads the paper every day and keeps up with the news and current affairs. She doesn't want to be in a nursing home, and we don't either because she wouldn't be happy there. She will live longer in her own environment, able to potter around and we can check in on her,” her son said.
“All we want is a small bit of help. She is very worried, she doesn't know what's going to happen, she is afraid she will end up in a home,” he said.
The granny is now actually praying to die at home.
“She’s praying to God that she dies in her sleep, she feels she is such a burden on everyone. It’s so sad to think that. That’s the way our country is. It is disgusting the way older people are treated,” her daughter in law said.
“We could have left her in the hospital, costing the State thousands a week but we respected her wishes and brought her home,” she said.
The lady had home help about 13 years ago, aged in her 80s, but the HSE decided she didn't need it.
“They took it from her because she was in such good health,” her daughter-in-law said.
She said that a health professional has told them other people have died waiting for promised home helps.
“We were told she could be dead by the time she gets home help. Palliative care gets first preference, I understand that,” she said.
“They were looking for us to chip in to pay for it. They said it would only cost €70 a week to keep her at home, but why can't the HSE afford that? It's an insult to the poor woman,” her daughter in law said.
The Health Service Executive responded to a query on the family's complaints.
The HSE said that home help numbers will increase later this autumn.
In July, it said that it delivered home support to 5,559 clients totalling 144,764 hours costing €3,886,953.
“These hours have since increased and will be available following the next Key Performance Indicators return mid September.
“Home Support Services is a non-statutory scheme, to support an Older Person living at home. Access to services is via assessment by HSE professionals. The quantity of services is limited to available budget,” a spokesperson said.
“Currently Midlands Louth Meath Community Healthcare Organisation are profiling our priority home support clients based on assessed needs and are working to provide services based on that priority profile,” the HSE said.
“The demand for home support continues to grow. The allocation of funding, though significant, is finite and services must be delivered within the funding available. This position will be kept under regular review,” the HSE said.
The HSE said it cannot comment on individual cases for client privacy, but the client's clinical team is happy to discuss care with the client or their family.