Walks for the elderly must be included in new Home Support Regulations as they are not covered presently points out Cllr. Emer Tóibín. 

”Grossly unfair and desperately needed” state HSE service providers in respect of no walks for the the elderly”

Home Support Services for Older Persons aged 65 and over, provide personal care assistance and help with washing, dressing, shaving, getting a person up and dressed or back to bed, assistance with toileting, preparing a light meal, prompting/supervision to eat and drink and prompting/supervision to take medications.

The current Older Persons Home Support service model does not include tasks such as walking with the client in their garden or out in their community.

Cllr Emer Tóibín.

Several constituents recently contacted Aontú councillor Emer Tóibín to express their disappointment that something as simple and as beneficial a walk is no longer available to them as part of their care package. Many able-bodied and active pensioners love to go out for a walk in their community in the company of their carer.

It is hugely beneficial part of their day and it adds colour, exercise, fresh air, aids digestion and enhances sleep yet our healthcare system, inexplicably, does not mandate for it. Private carers can and do accompany their clients on daily walks but HSE carers or private carers contracted by the HSE are not allowed to offer this vital service to their elderly clients.

Having spoken to the HSE and HIQA about this important issue, Cllr. Tóibín is calling for a bit of common sense to be applied here saying that ‘if a client is able to walk and engage in physical activity surely we should accommodate this simple request and incorporate this invaluable activity in every care plan possible.”

Going forward the model of Home Support services is to be regulated and monitored by the Health Information and Quality Authority. These regulations are currently in draft format and have been available for public consultation. These new regulations are expected to be in place some time 2024.

Cllr Tóibín is appealing to HIQA to include walking as part of carer duties to those whose mobiilty facilitates it. ”If private contractors provide this vital service to their able-bodied clients, why can’t our public carers do the same.

The elderly were cooped up indoors for a very long time over recent years during government enforced Covid restrictions. Many are still reluctant to return to normal activity and socialisation with friends and neighbours.

The wonderful aspect of providing home supports to the elderly is to allow them to live independently for as long as possible in their own homes and communities. To stop short of ensuring they are can enjoy the company of their carer on a leisurely stroll in their home town or village flies in the face of good healthcare provision and common sense.”