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Time to make progress on home care

Among the key recommendations of the report are:

  1. the enactment of legislation underpinning the provision of homecare. This legislation must set out to provide a definition of homecare, the eligibility of homecare and the statutory obligations on the HSE to provide homecare. The Committee strongly recommends that appropriate resources are provided to enable the enactment of legislation by 2021, as set out in Sláintecare’s strategic plan.
  2.  that homecare services are regulated by HIQA or another independent body which should be responsible for regulating the standard of care provided by professional carers, the commissioning of service by the HSE to voluntary organisations and the provision of homecare services.
  3. that family carers are provided adequate support to incentivise informal homecare support. Such support includes: 

    simplifying access to carer allowances and grants
    widening eligibility to accessing carer allowance and grants
    removing irregularities within the tax system which have a punitive effect on those providing informal homecare
    providing respite hours to those who supply home care hours.

Being well at home is also about the availability of care supports appropriate to the needs of older people. The Government has committed to the introduction of a statutory right to home care in 2021, and debates are ongoing as to what that should entail. Social Justice Ireland believes that ultimately it should allow for choice on the part of the care recipient from a ‘basket of goods’ that ranges from healthcare to home care, personal care to social inclusion.

A statutory basis for home care packages has been called for by Social Justice Ireland and moves in this direction are welcome. However, supporting people to live at home requires an integrated approach that ensures access to a range of supports in the home as well as transitional facilities. To achieve this, deficits in infrastructure need to be addressed urgently with an emphasis on replacement and/or refurbishment of facilities. If this is not done, the inappropriate admission of older people to acute care facilities will continue with consequent negative effects on acute services and unnecessary stress on people and their families.