With regard to difficulties in the recruitment and retention of Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) being reported by the voluntary and private nursing home sector, officials from my Department and from the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) met with representatives from the sector on this matter last year, and in particular to work through a business case submitted by them. The business case seeks to address the reported shortage of HCAs by bringing in workers from outside of the EEA, via the removal of HCAs from the Ineligible List for employment permits, which is operated by DBEI.
Sectoral representatives were advised at the last meeting which took place in November, that my Department is not in a position to support their request to DBEI at present. This is on foot of analysis of their submission, and information received from the Services for Older People Unit within my Department, as well as from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), who had been contacted in order to seek validation on some of the content of the business case.
The business case seeking changes to the DBEI employment permits lists as it stands cannot be supported, however officials from my Department have assured the sectorial representatives, that the lines of communication remain open in this regard, and that this matter can be revisited when they can demonstrate that the issues set out by the DEASP, as well as improvements with regard to terms and conditions of employment have been addressed.