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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 10 November 2020

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Ceisteanna (703)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

703. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the reason services for dementia patients were abandoned during the pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34827/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, my Department and the HSE have focused on meeting the needs of people living with dementia. The HSE has adapted its community services in order to provide a flexible response. The majority of the HSE’s Memory Technology Resource Rooms are now providing telephone/video assessment and consultation. Primary care team support is operating nationwide, with referrals made to community supports including the Dementia Adviser Service and local authority community response forums. While home support visits have been somewhat restricted, the HSE applies prioritisation and screening measures to identify clients in need of home visits.

In addition, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland continues to support people with dementia and their families. While day care and respite services are suspended, their National Helpline, Dementia Advisers, Online Family Carer Training and Home Care are all still running. ASI have also introduced new online services and supports – Online Support Groups for Family Carers, Virtual Alzheimer Cafés and Alternative Activity Therapy. Their National Helpline is expanding with a new free call-back service which offers people with dementia and family carers the opportunity to book a 1:1 session with a Dementia Nurse or Adviser.

Guidance for re-opening day centres including those for people with dementia has issued to CHOs. CHOs are requested to undertake risk assessments in centres to determine if infection prevention and control measures can be implemented to ensure social distancing and the safe transport of clients to and from centres. Advice from NPHET is that people over 70, as medically vulnerable people, should continue to cocoon and not gather in congregated settings. The HSE is committed to reopening its day services but needs to resolve these issues.

In Budget 2021 the Government has allocated an additional €12.9 million for Dementia services with a particular focus on extending the availability of community-focused supports. The additional investment will provide dedicated access to at least 250,000 additional home care hours. It will improve diagnostic services through the establishment of Memory Assessment and Support Services in Mayo, Sligo, Waterford and Wexford, and a specialist memory clinic in Cork. It will also be used to increase access to in-home day care, further develop the Dementia: Understand Together initiative, provide more dementia advisers, improve the national network of memory technology resource rooms, help deliver an acute hospital dementia and delirium care pathway, and implement the national clinical guideline on the appropriate use of psychotropic medication in people with dementia. All of these measures will help ensure that people with dementia can continue to live well in their own communities with appropriate supports.

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