Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (512)

Mary Butler

Question:

512. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health his views on whether home care support packages provided by the Health Service Executive offer the best value to support persons who need care at home; and his plans to fill the vacancies in the sector. [26817/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Home Support Service is a core service for older people and is highly valued by service users, their families and by the Health Service Executive. It provides supports which assist older people to live independently in their own homes for longer and enables large numbers of people to return home following acute hospital admission who otherwise would remain in hospital or would be admitted to long stay residential care.

Many more of our older people with complex care needs are now being maintained at home, leading to increased demand for additional levels of service, and for services outside of core hours of Monday to Friday. It is crucial that we develop homecare services and we are working to provide a more viable alternative to nursing home care for a greater number of people. The Department is currently developing plans for a new statutory scheme and system of regulation for home support services. The Scheme will improve access to the service on an affordable and sustainable basis while also introducing a system of regulation that will ensure public confidence. This approach is fully aligned with Sláintecare, Ireland’s vision for healthcare reform over the next 10 years which, at its core, recognises the importance of shifting care to the community to provide care closer to home and allow people to remain living in their communities for as long as possible. The Scheme is a key deliverable under the Department’s Sláintecare Implementation Strategy and has a target date of 2021.

Work is also currently being progressed in relation to a review of the management, operation and funding of current homecare services in Ireland. This review is a commitment under the Programme for Partnership Government and will provide a baseline for the design of an effective, sustainable service as part of the development of a statutory homecare scheme. The review will look at various matters relating to the management and operation of the service, including the proportion of the funding allocated to direct service-provision by the HSE and the methodology for the allocation of funding to service-providers through the HSE’s tendering processes, and how this relates to the funding of direct service-provision by the HSE.

Given the nature of the role of the Home Care Support Assistant, (formerly known as a "Home Help"), these have always been very locally recruited, with a Home Help Manager matching and coordinating staff with clients, dependent on the number of hours and level of support both available from the worker and required by the client. The HSE keeps under review the position regarding the number of HCSA staff employed having regard to the hours available and the hours worked by existing staff in the local area.