Home care sector says up to 800 new carers needed to provide increased home care set out in Winter Plan 2020-21

  • Social Care Workforce Review needed to make Home First achievable
  • HCCI announce Carers Employment Taskforce to provide a roadmap to improve working conditions for carers
  • A new home care study identifies key actions for home care providers, HSE and Government to enhance the service

Thursday  1st October 2020: Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI), the national organisation representing home care providers, anticipates that approximately 800 new carers are needed in the private sector to provide the additional 4.7 million home care hours as set out in the HSE Winter Plan.  HCCI says that Government should, in consultation with the HSE and home care providers, lead a Social Care Workforce review to deal with the recruitment challenge.   Also, in a new study released today, it has identified key actions needed to ensure additional carers can be recruited.

HCCI’s annual conference took place by webcast today (1st October 2020) featuring national and international speakers discussing the future of home care, marking UN International Day of Older Persons. Stephen Donnelly T.D., Minister for Health addressed the conference as well as Michael Dowling, head of New York’s Northwell Health. The Limerick native spoke about his experiences leading New York’s response to the pandemic, the heroic efforts of his frontline colleagues and the critical importance of crisis planning.

Joseph Musgrave, CEO, HCCI, said, “We welcome the Government and HSE Winter Plan to increase the state’s home care capacity by 4.7 million hours over the next seven months. This is a big move towards Home First.  We hope to see the same priority given to home care in Budget 2021 as in the Winter Plan, and to see home care become the default choice of care. The Plan is great news for vulnerable people and their families and will help to manage hospital occupancy and other healthcare facilities this winter. However, to make all this happen, we need Government to lead a consultation process, along with the HSE and home care providers.”

According to HCCI, the following actions are needed to make Home First a reality:

  • A Government-led rapid Social Care Workforce Review to maximise carer recruitment and retention, including changes to the social benefits system so that carers are not penalised for increasing their working hours. Up to 800 new carers will be needed to provide the additional 4.7 million hours, while retaining the 10,000 already employed.#
  • Wage protection for carers of Covid-19 positive or suspected clients. As these carers cannot work for other clients they are being penalised for work that entails increased risk.
  • Additional support is required to train and upskill new carers (potentially those unemployed due to the pandemic) so that they can be fast tracked into the system in a safe and controlled manner.
  • A targeted, rolling testing programme for the home care sector. HCCI has been calling for this since April. Right now, home care providers are having to alert potential close contacts themselves as the national system is too slow.

HCCI’s 15 recommendations are set out in its pre-budget submission, available here.

Musgrave continued, “As CEO of HCCI, I recognise that our sector and HCCI members have a responsibility to improve caring as a career choice. To this end, I have asked former minister and new HCCI board member, Jim Daly to chair a new HCCI Carers Employment Taskforce. The group’s remit is to convene members, carers and other stakeholders to set out a roadmap for how our sector can improve conditions for carers, including how we can move towards a living wage.”

A new study – ‘An inquiry into the lived experience of covid-19 in the home care sector in Ireland’ – comprised of anonymous feedback from 18 home care companies has been published by HCCI to coincide with its conference. The insightful findings concludes with key actions that should be undertaken by providers, HSE and Government.  You can access the study here.

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