Improving access to home support remains a priority for Government. Over the past four years we have seen a considerable increase of nearly €140 million in the budget which has grown from €306 million in 2015 to almost €446 million this year. In 2019, the HSE intends to provide 17.9 million home support hours to 53,000 people and intensive home care packages to 235 people, equating to a further 0.36m hours.
Despite this significant level of service provision, the demand for home support continues to grow. The allocation of funding for home supports across the system, though significant, is finite and services must be delivered within the funding available. The HSE is required to deliver the service within the available budget, and this means ensuring the hours allocated to the service are affordable. This requires the HSE to manage the budget and service provision throughout the year to ensure a balanced budget for 2019.
The development of a new, standalone statutory scheme and system of regulation for home-support services is a long-standing objective of the Government. This is currently progressing in line with the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy which commits to the introduction of the new scheme in 2021. It is intended that the new statutory scheme will improve access to adult home support services on an affordable and sustainable basis while the introduction of a system of regulation will ensure public confidence in these services.
Building on a review of the home care systems in 4 EU countries which was published in April 2017, the Department is currently engaged in a review of the policy goals, objectives and guiding principles of adult home support service provision in ten countries. This review will assist in identifying international good practices, the learning from which will be incorporated into the development of the new statutory scheme.