Describing recent cases in which people were denied their basic rights, ALICE LEAHY, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST, said today (Wednesday, November 8, 2006) that the gap is widening between top managers and front line carers in the health, social and homeless services and it is making conditions for the most vulnerable, those who have no voice, much more difficult and only a new management philosophy that ensures everyone is treated with dignity and respect offers any hope of reform. ALICE LEAHY was speaking at the annual Céifin Conference in Ennis and said that front line professionals who took time with those who needed it were often made to feel they were “wasting time with people” as everything is assessed against budgets based on quantitative indicators and benchmarks which in no way reflect the human condition or the real needs of human beings.

ALICE LEAHY cited the case of Joe, a ninety year old man known to Trust for over 20 years who was living in a hostel up to recently and for whom TRUST had worked relentlessly over more than three weeks attempting to get a subvention grant from the HSE only to loose the nursing home bed the organisation has secured for him because it took so long to obtain the grant despite the urgent nature of his condition. “Six weeks later Joe, who would quite happily have gone to the nursing home where many of his former colleagues from the hostel are now living, is occupying an acute hospital bed and therefore keeping one other person on a trolley in A&E”, ALICE LEAHY said.

ALICE LEAHY went on: “This case highlights in a graphic and compelling way why the crisis in A&E seems never ending. Top managers in the services do not listen to people like us in front line care. Joe is still occupying an acute bed in a major hospital. He would be happier in a nursing home. Until we reach a stage where instead of insisting that people must meet the needs of the system we turn it around and focus on serving people and making sure their rights are protected nothing will change. This is what human rights based management means – treating people with dignity and respect which many front line carers are almost prevented from doing by the current system which can make them feel they are wasting time with people if they give them the care and attention they need and where now form filling has become the priority.”

ALICE LEAHY said it would be very easy to feel upset with the approach taken by those in the HSE over Joe’s case. “However, they are only implementing the regulations laid down by top management. But why? To save money? As anyone can see in this case, failing a ninety year old man has cost the HSE and the taxpayer much more money. In the long run doing the right thing will make everyone better off.”