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Sage Advocacy is calling on the Government to deliver a “responsive” Budget that will safeguard and support the rights of those who may be most vulnerable in our communities, particularly against the backdrop of Covid-19.

The national charity, which provides a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, said the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in the health and social care system, which is now in crisis and there are fears that long-promised reforms will again be put on the back-burner.

Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said: “We know from our advocacy work that the system cannot cope. Budget 2021 is an opportunity for the Government to start to fix that system.

“We currently have a two-tier healthcare system which means that those who can afford it get it ahead of those who cannot and we have a siloed approach to the long-term support and care of older people which is biased towards congregated settings

“The Government urgently needs to Shed a Tier and develop a single tier national health service with an integrated system of social care focused on home.

“We are also very aware that many people end up in nursing homes against their will because of a lack of community based alternatives. Currently care in peoples’ home is inadequately funded and is unregulated but nursing care is on a statutory basis and is regulated. This country needs to commit to investing in a much wider range of options for people to grow older in a place of their choice.”

“We have been promised legislative reforms such as the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act, which would repeal the Lunacy Act and bring in place a modern supported decision-making structure to replace the ward of court system, five years have passed and it has yet to be fully implemented, because of a failure to adequately resource the Decision Support Service, which is the body responsible for the implementation of that new system.”

Sage Advocacy said while it acknowledges that everyone in Ireland has been impacted by Covid-19, some people, particularly older and vulnerable members of our community, are struggling more than others and the Government must allocate resources in Budget 2021 to address this.

Ms Lennon added: “From our work we know that many families are struggling to cope because day care centers have not re-opened and as a result carers no longer have the support mechanism in place to enable them to do other necessary tasks or simply to get a break - many carers are also elderly and in poor health.

 Furthermore we also believe that the current Carer’s Allowance system urgently needs to be reviewed and overhauled as it is neither sufficient to meet the home-care support needs nor containing sufficient safeguards.

“Transport issues are also becoming more of a major issue for older people and healthcare patients because of Covid-19 particularly in rural areas for older people whose immediate families have moved to the larger towns or cities and for those who have no family at all. Lack of available transport has frequently been cited as a blockage for people wishing to attend day services. 

“All we are asking the Government to do is to ensure that Budget 2021 does not penalise people for growing older or for being vulnerable in Ireland and that this Government invests and aspires to create a much better system of support.”



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