She has now written to the Health Minister to ascertain how many of these people are waiting in step down facilities and hospitals and at what cost.
Commenting on the figures Mrs Dodds said,
“It is absolutely shocking that across Northern Ireland, almost 3,000 people are awaiting care packages. Domiciliary care is in a state of brokenness but at what cost?
Having no care package in place, means a lot of elderly patients are occupying a hospital bed despite being fit for discharge, or else they are in a step-down facility costing close to £1,000 per week.
This backlog did not simply build up overnight and is a result of continued inaction to tackle the crisis in domiciliary care.
We have been warning the Minister that this inaction would have serious consequences. Regrettably we have been proven right, with ambulances queueing at Emergency Departments and huge pressure being placed on our hospital staff.
The Minister recently announced more money for the sector to be spent between now and the end of the financial year. That is a sticking plaster. We need to see the Department’s long-term plan to turn this situation around.
Our care staff are already overworked and underpaid and the Minister need to get to grips with this situation urgently.
The figures are staggering. If only one third of that total are in a step-down facility, that would be costing close to one million pounds per week. That could employ almost fifty carers for a year.
These figures a cause of huge concern and show the Minster is currently presiding over a crisis in domiciliary care.”