I am delighted to attend the Alliance of Health Care Assistant’s Conference, and to see so many people here this afternoon. Thank you to Anne Marie for my invitation, and for her hard work in advocating for HCA’s and spreading word about the Alliance.
By way of background, Home and Community Care Ireland is the representative association for organisations that provide a managed home care service in Ireland. We have over 70 members who directly employ some 12,000 carers serving 20,000 clients. Next to the HSE, HCCI’s members are the largest provider of care in the State.
Although there is plenty I feel we can do now to improve home care, that is not what I am here to speak with you about today. Anne Marie asked me to discuss the future of homecare.
There are two things we know that will greatly affect the future – the statutory entitlement for homecare that the Department for Health is currently working on and, related to that, the Sláintecare reforms.
My understanding is that the Department is proceeding with work on the statutory entitlement for homecare, and that they hope to release more information in Q2 or Q3 this year.
In drafting the entitlement, the Department should, in my view, encompass four things:
Outline what level, or levels, of home care provision that a person in Ireland can be entitled to
Explain how this level of home care provision will be funded
Describe the regulatory model for home care
Ensure that all this is set against the context of Sláintecare, which means that it should be integrated into the community from the outset
Focusing on Sláintecare, one of my greatest hopes is that we get a true community health service. For home care, this would mean that we should see less home care packages awarded in the acute system – that is, fewer approved at the point where someone has taken a fall or is about to be discharged from hospital – and more awarded as a gradual scaling up of care for the individual.
We have to diagnose, manage and intervene in a more timely way.
Some other thoughts about the future of the service:
We need to rethink our approach to home care workers. I think it is totally unacceptable that the current health service pays one hourly rate to a home care worker regardless of skill and experience. We need to look at this along with a range of other measures to support home care workers in the job that they do.
Ireland does not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to home care. We can draw on international best practice and be innovative in our approach to new technologies. As more and more of the world’s countries have ageing populations, this is an opportunity for us to design and incorporate technology to improve home care services.
I believe in the power of individual choice, and think it is a good thing that clients have a range of providers. However, to function effectively, clients need to have information in order to make an informed choice. As we develop plans for the future of the service, we need to give careful thought about how we educate people from all sections of our society about home care and their choices.
This is not an exhaustive list about the future of home care in Ireland, but I wanted to share some thoughts with you to get our discussion started.
Thank you for listening to me this afternoon, and I will gladly take any questions that you may have.