A Derry family have said their mother is “heartbroken” at losing her long-term home help, whom she looked upon as another daughter.
The family have expressed dismay that the woman who has helped them care for their mother will be withdrawn as a result of changes to how the Western Trust administers domiciliary care to people.
A daughter of the elderly woman- who has asked not to be identified- said that recent discussions around the issue seemed not to consider the relationships that have developed between home helps and service users in Derry and elsewhere.
The woman, whose mother is in her 90s and suffers from a range of conditions, said: “My mum is a very independent lady who will only accept minimum support from social services, choosing to manage things herself if and when she can. The home help was originally in place for fire-lighting and support with shopping, and meal preparation.
“The same home help has been with mum since the start of the service and a very important and valued relationship developed between mum and this lady. Mum’s home help is one of those who have been affected with the policy change in the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) and my mum is devastated by this news.
“My mother’s service is considered ‘low level need’ and is for 30 minutes, three days per week. Our family support mum with all other aspects of care she needs and this is the way she and we are happy to proceed.
“In March 2014 mum had a fall at home resulting in a broken hip and emergency surgery. Following this she had a period of rehabilitation at the Waterside Hospital and then additional domiciliary care at home until she regained independence.
“My point here is that my mother is a very undemanding citizen, who is now heartbroken and literally grieving the end of her relationship with the home help who she feels is like another daughter.”
There were 230 Home Helps employed by the Trust, attending to 570 service users as of August this year, and concerns over their future has been raised by among others Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan.
The Western Trust has said that its redeployment programme for home helps was “an on-going process”, and said there were no planned redundancies.
A spokeswoman for the Trust said: “The Western Trust has been implementing the reform and modernisation of its Domiciliary Care Services as part of the wider Transforming Your Care Programme.”