The Programme for Government committed to develop a National Carers' Strategy and a Nationals Alzheimer’s and other Dementia Strategy. It also included a commitment to complete and implement a National Positive Ageing Strategy.
The Carers' Strategy was published in July 2012 and the National Positive Ageing Strategy was published in April 2013. It is intended that a draft of the Dementia Strategy will be completed by the end of 2013. The Programme for Government contains commitments to develop and implement national standards for home support services that are subject to inspection by HIQA, to invest in more and better care for older people in the community and residential settings, and to ensure the eligibility criteria for home support services are consistently applied. The HSE, as part of the home care tender process introduced written standards of care in 2012. These standards covered such areas as:
- principles of service delivery
- complaints procedure
- protection of service user
- consent policy
- governance and management
- workforce recruitment, training, staff development and supervision.
The purpose of these measures is to promote quality and safety and to provide a more standardised approach to service provision nationally.
The standards apply to all external providers, private and voluntary, who have been approved to provide home care funded through the Home Care Package Scheme. Each Local Health Office area monitors the service providers approved under this process to ensure that the standards are being adhered to. Audits are completed and quarterly reports are requested and reviewed. Supporting this is the ongoing monitoring and review carried out by healthcare professionals such as public health nurses.
Primary legislation will be required to introduce a statutory regulation system and some complex legal issue arises in this area. Other legislative priorities and issues of resources also need to be considered in progressing statutory regulation.
Finally, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to consider developing a secure and equitable system of financing for community and long-term care which supports older people to stay in their own homes. Work on a review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme has already commenced. The Terms of reference for this review include:
- consideration of the balance of funding between long-term residential care and community based services, and
- consideration of the extension of the scheme to community based services.
Work will continue on the review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme in the coming months with a view to completion by end 2013/early 2014.