SIPTU representatives have demanded that any potential freeze on the allocation of new home help packages is avoided, and that no financial barrier is put in front of vulnerable people in need of home care support. Speaking to Liberty Secretary of the SIPTU Health Care Support Assistants (HCSA) Committee, Katherine Dowling, said: “Firstly, the Health Service Executive (HSE) must stop scapegoating home care workers over its failure to manage its own budget. The reality is our members signed up to a new revised contract with the HSE at the Workplace Relations Commission last year that guaranteed 670,000 additional home help hours. This deal included the creation of up to 800 new home help positions, the payment of travel time and an end to the 15-minute care window so that the needs of the service user can be catered for in a manner which respects their dignity.” She added: “It is scandalous for management to suggest that this agreement is somehow to blame for any potential freeze on the allocation of support hours to vulnerable citizens. It is also totally unfair on workers trying their best every day to care for people in their homes.” SIPTU Industrial Organiser, Ted Kenny, said: “Any potential freeze is going to have a major impact on older citizens in need of care, on their families and on people with a disability. It will also put major pressure on hospitals because of delayed discharges and force older people into nursing homes. The Government must now move to provide the necessary funding to meet the expectations of the public and the 6,000 people waiting on home care support.” The weekly cost of supporting a person in a nursing home can be three times higher than providing home care.