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Man with MS fears being sent to nursing home after home care hours removed


A man living with multiple sclerosis (MS) who has had his home care hours removed now fears being sent to a nursing home where he says he would feel as if he were in the “departure lounge”.

Gavin Fannin (48) has lived with MS for 25 years and was receiving 41 hours of care per week from the HSE through a private provider.

His expansive care package involved four visits per day by two carers, who would get him out of bed, shower and dress him, feed him, provide his medication, and put him back to bed at night.

However, Mr Fannin, who told his story on RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline this week, had his home care removed on Friday due to a shortage of staff.

Home Instead, Mr Fannin’s care provider, informed him in late September that the homecare sector was facing “an immediate and growing staffing crisis” and would have to remove his care hours.

A letter from the Home Instead, seen by The Irish Times, said staff had been resigning at a rapid rate from Home Instead to take work in nursing homes.

“In July, we had 19 resignations and another 20 resignations in August. You can imagine the strain and impact this level of staff leaving the business has on our ability to provide a high quality level of service,” the letter said.

One of the contributing factors was the recent decision by the Department of Enterprise to exclude home carers from the critical skills exemption to the non-EEA employment permit system.

“This decision has heightened the already present shortage of skilled staff to work in the home care sector,” the letter stated, adding that Covid-19 was also continuing to have “an incredible impact” on the sector.

The list of occupations for non-EEA work permits undergoes a twice-yearly review. The most recently concluded review in June did not recommend removing home care workers from the ineligible occupations list.

The situation has left Gavin feeling “frightened, scared and frustrated,” he told The Irish Times.

“I can’t really put it into words, it’s so disappointing,” he said.

Mr Fannin’s brother, David Fannin, said he was “given assurances that there would be a transition of care,” but on November 3rd, the family received a phone call from Disability Services in the HSE to say they couldn’t find anybody to provide a single hour of care for Gavin, and his care would be removed on November 5th.

Brothers David and Gavin Fannin. Photograph: Jade Wilson
Brothers David and Gavin Fannin. Photograph: Jade Wilson

“They gave us 48 hours notice. It’s not even a reduction in hours, it’s literally gone from 41 to zero. So since Friday, it’s just been myself looking after him,” David said.

David is self-employed and took some time off work to care for his brother, but will need to return to work shortly.

Their father died in March this year, and their mother lives in South Africa.

“I have a sister and a niece who help when they can, but they have their own families and both live out of Dublin. Myself and my wife have a young son who’s 19 months old too,” David said.

Disability Services offered Gavin a maximum of one week of respite but the family feared that if he left his apartment, the chances of his hours being reinstated would be “much slimmer” and the HSE would send him to live in a care home.

“I thought, God, if it’s a nursing home for me now, then next up it’s a hospice. It’s like a one way trip, almost like a departure lounge,” Gavin said.

“If I were in a nursing home, I would just wonder, what is the point, really? Is it just watching the clock tick down now?”

Gavin often has friends come around to his apartment and “has a life” but if he goes to a care home “that will be gone”, especially with restrictions on visitors during the pandemic, he said.

His brother David described him as a “fiercely independent person”.

“Nobody wants to see him in a long term care facility. He’s been backed into a corner and is scared as to what the future will hold now,” David said.



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