Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Home Help Scheme.

17.

asked the Minister for Health if he will give the hourly rates for persons employed in the home help scheme under the Southern Health Board; and his views on whether this is a reasonable remuneration.

Persons employed in the home help scheme by the Southern Health Board are not paid at an hourly rate. The question of payment to home helps was considered by a committee of the Southern Health Board established in 1986 to examine services for the elderly in the North Lee-South Lee community care areas. The report which was adopted by the board recommendedinter alia that, because the work element is related to the circumstances of the individual case, is unsupervised and the time element is dependent to a large extent on the person who undertakes the tasks involved, the rate of remuneration should be based on the requirements and type of tasks performed.

I thank the Minister for his reply. Because of the closure of some old folks homes in the area there is an escalating demand for the service. In view of the paltry sums being paid would the Minister consider having this matter reviewed and hold discussions with the health board to ensure that these people are adequately remunerated? Literally we are talking about pence an hour.

As I said, the method of payment was considered by a committee of the Southern Health Board, and, indeed, their report was adopted by them; £839,000 has been allocated in the current year for the home help service in the Southern Health Board area.

I know a number of these people and basically they are doing this work out of charity. It would not pay them to travel two or three miles for £2 a day two days a week.

A question please, Deputy.

Will the Minister make sure that these people who are providing a very valuable service are adequately remunerated? I am not worried about the way he does this.

I will convey the Deputy's views to the Southern Health Board.