Home and Community Care Ireland Calls for regulation in the home care industry

Home and Community Care Ireland Calls for regulation in the home care industry

–          Demand for home care services to increase by 50% over the next eleven years – creating a demand for 20,000 additional jobs in the home care sector

30th May 2018: Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI), the representative organisation for private home care providers in Ireland, appeared today (30th May) before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health to discuss one of the greatest challenges facing the Irish economy: the ageing population in Ireland. Every 15 minutes someone in Ireland turns 65, and every 30 minutes someone turns 80.

As a result of long hospital waiting lists and the Government’s stated policy of removing ‘bed blockers’, there is an unprecedented demand for home care services.  According to a recent report from the ERSI, “Projections of Demand for Healthcare in Ireland 2015 – 2030” demand for home care will increase by 50% over the next eleven years. The Department of Health has acknowledged that it is unable to keep up with demand. Approximately 4,600 people are on waiting lists for home care (this includes new applicants and those waiting for additional hours). According to the Healthy Ireland report of 2017, Planning for Health, the requirement for home care packages is expected to rise by 70% by 2031, resulting in an additional 11,000 home care packages (HCPs).

Orlaith Carmody, Chairperson of Home and Community Ireland said: “HCCI welcomes the opportunity to offer some insight and co-operation in bringing urgent change to bear on the legislation, regulation and commission of home care. It is a reality that home care in Ireland is in crisis and urgent steps need to be put in place. A poll carried out by Amárach Research found that 85% of people wanted to be cared for in their home. Currently, there is no regulation of any description in the home care industry. In the absence of regulation, HCCI is the only body that submits to independent auditors and operates a self-governing framework. We in the HCCI would also like to stress that recruitment and retention of workers is a major challenge for the home care sector.”

In respect of care workers, HCCI estimates that some 40,000 people are employed in home care across the public, voluntary and private sectors. However, the sector is facing problems retaining current carers, because of working conditions and a lack of professional standing; and has the impossible task of finding 20,000 new carers as a matter of urgency.

HCCI’s approach to home care is based on providing a fully managed, relationship and outcome-based, home care service to every client who needs it.  Every client is professionally assessed. Every carer is Garda vetted, trained, insured, managed and supervised, thereby ensuring the highest standards of care for the client. In addition, HCCI believes it delivers value for money to the Irish taxpayer and is committed to continuing this practice.

The immediate concerns of the industry –  as highlighted in the seven policy and legislative challenges identified by the Oireachtas Library and Research – are a lack of regulation or any standardisation of service throughout the country, which are urgently needed to provide safeguarding for the most vulnerable members of our society.

In light of the aforementioned, HCCI is calling for the following measures to be adopted:

1.      Home care to be introduced on a statutory basis, mirroring the legal entitlement to funding for long-stay care available through the Nursing Home Support Schemes.

2.     An independent authority (such as HIQA) to be introduced to implement regulation and standards to drive quality and safe delivery of care to home care clients.

3.     Change HSE commissioning procedures to allow care workers operate a workable block weekly schedule with travel costs included. Many carers need support from the Department of Social Protection. Currently, if these Carers works just half an hour a day, as often occurs under current commissioning practices, they lose their full daily social welfare entitlement.

4.     The introduction of a national register of trained and qualified home care practitioners, which protects both carers and clients.

5.     The combining of current budgets for Nursing Home Care and Home Care. This would entail the HSE offering expanded home care packages to offer full choice to clients and the opportunity to live independently in the dignity and comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

6.     Nationwide implementation of Client-Directed Home Care (CDC). This would involve offering a monetary contribution towards an individual’s home care needs, allowing them to choose their own provider – i.e. public, private or voluntary.

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