Access to health and social services remains a fundamental human right to a civilized society like that of republic of Ireland. Every person, regardless of age, religion or political affiliation should be able to access health and services if and when they need it. In the case of people with special needs, access to these services becomes even more important. This is because they are the ones that are likely to need these services more frequently. They are also the ones who are likely to be unable to access these services, despite the fact that they need them more.
These people with special needs include the aged, the children and the disabled amongst others. For example, those people with mental illnesses are entitled to visits from social workers. These visits are made by the social worker to the homes of the mentally ill to make sure that the family is treating them with respect and care and to make sure that they take their medicine in time and when the need arises. The aged in the republic of Ireland are entitled to certain fundamental social and health services.
These include treatment for the diseases that are likely to afflict them and counselling from the social workers. However, it is with deep concern that the writer has noted that the social services that are availed to this group of people are not enough. Some of them are forced to go to homes for the aged where it is said that they will be receiving social and medical services round the clock. However, it is not the wish of these people to spend the rest of their lives enclosed in an institution that they did not want in the first place.
This writer noted that the home based care of these people needs to be improved. They should be allowed to stay at their homes. But the number of social workers should be increased such that every old person has a personal social worker who will be accessible at all times. Thus, this paper is advocating for the improvement of home based social care for the aged. Status of the Social Services for the Aged in the Republic of Ireland Social service in Ireland falls under the docket of public health care system for the country (Cahill: 2008).
It is enshrined in the health act that was enacted in the year 2004. This act provided for the development of institutions that are tasked with providing social services to every citizen of this country. The social services as such ended up been a part and mandate of the Health Service Executive (Chandran: 2008). Within the HSE, as this body is popularly known, social service is under the department of primary, community and continuing care (Gunnar: 2007). The services that are provided for the older people include rehabilitation and community services.
They are also provided by home based services. The latter includes the visitations made by the nurses and other community health officials to the homes of the aged. This paper is going to petition the HSE to improve the social services that the aged gets at their homes, rather than at the institutions for the aged. Improved Social Services for the Irish Aged In 2006, a census was conducted in the republic of Ireland by the Central Statistics Office of Ireland. According to this census, the aged in Ireland were estimated at 207,000 for the male and 260,000 for the females (Schnepper: 2008).
These were the ones who are aged sixty five years and above. This is the group that is considered and defined as the aged. They are the ones that need social services more than the others in the society. This number seems big if it is compared with the total number of social service providers that are employed by NSE. NSE employs around 100,000 service care providers. These are the ones that provide care for the aged, the children, the mentally ill and the disabled amongst others (Higgins: 2009).
As such, the service provision for the old is neglected, since these care providers are overworked and their resources overstretched. As such, NSE needs to recruit more service providers to cater for the old. The old people have problems accessing not only the social services entitled to them, but also other services like the home care scheme, which provides for a package to cover for their treatment. The national economic and social forum came up with a report on May 2009 highlighting the difficulties that these people experience as they try to access this service (Hughes: 2009).
This package has helped at least ten thousand Irish aged in 2008 (Hughes: 2009). But this number is very small compared to the earlier stated estimates of the aged. This means that some of these people are unable to access this service. Something must be done to enable these people to access the service. It is not enough to provide for the service in society, the authorities must make sure that the services are accessed by those people who need it. As John Rawls says, “institutions in the society…. ut regulation in place to ensure that support services are availed to those who experience the targeted problem” (Hughes: 2009). This means that HSE should ensure that the old people get the services that are available for them. There is only one way to ensure this. If these people had access to a social worker, he will be able to sensitise them on how to access such services when the need for it arises. The social worker will not only help the aged access the service, he will also ensure identify situations when the service is called for.
It is fact that Irish aged have little or no access to the care services that they need. Many old people, since they lack constant care and other services, ends up developing complications that leads to their incapacitation. These complications could have been avoided if they had accessed the appropriate care at the appropriate time (Chandran: 2008). For example, they develop diseases like cardiac and diabetes. These diseases can be prevented by healthy diet and exercise. However, these people have no one to advise them on the best diet to take in order to avoid such illnesses.
They have no one to advise them on the lifestyle they should adopt in order to live healthy. As such, these complications lead to their admissions to nursing homes. This is too little too late, since the condition is likely to have deteriorated. However, if they had the constant care of a home based social service provider, they would have been advised appropriately on the lifestyle to adopt and diet to take to avoid such incidences (Higgins: 2009). According to John Rawl “equality cannot be achieved by worsening the least advantaged” (Hughes: 2009).
This means that there will be no equality in the society if the status of the less advantaged (in this case the old) is made worse. This will be a contradiction to the human rights of justice and equality to all. Less than three percent of Irish aged enjoys home based care, like the one provided for by the social workers (Schnepper: 2008). This is as compared to other countries in this continent, like the United Kingdom. This number is very small, considering the number of aged people that are in this country.
The reasons for this measly access are varied. Some include ignorance on the part of the aged, as they do not know that such services do exist. The other reason, and may be the most important, is that there is a shortage of social care providers. This means that there is no one to deliver these services to the aged. The services are there, but there is no one to deliver them. Conclusion There is disproportionately large number of aged people in Ireland as compared to the social service providers.
As such, the aged remain to have their health and well being deteriorate. Majority of the aged suffer from depression. This can be mitigated if they have access to the services of social care providers, who will help by counselling them. It is not only their mental health that is at risk, but also their physical health. There is need then for NSE to increase the number of home based social service providers to cater for the well being of this segment of the society.
Courtney from Study Moose
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