Homecare is an increasingly important part of the supports we offer to older people, and will continue to increase in importance into the future, as our ageing population grows.
The Department is currently engaged in a detailed process to develop plans for a new statutory scheme and system of regulation for home care services. While this is under development, both the Department and Health Service Executive (HSE) are continuing efforts to incrementally improve the existing home care services. As detailed in its National Service Plan, the HSE has begun work on streamlining home care services by moving towards a single funded home support service. This brings together the funding for home help and standard home care packages which will operate as a single home support service from 2018 onwards. The additional resources made available in 2018 bring the total budget for the direct provision of home support services to €408m.
This new approach will provide significant benefits for the service users, the public and the health system including:
- making the services easier to understand;
- streamlining the application processes resulting in only one application and decision being required for home support services for older people; and
- facilitating service users to move to changed levels of services as their assessed needs change, without the need for an additional application process.
The HSE’s National Service Plan provides for a target of some 17.094m home support hours to be provided to 50,500 people, which compares with 16.34m hours delivered to 50,000 people (home help and home hours combined), an increase of 754,000 hours to 500 more people. In addition 235 intensive home care packages will provide 360,000 home support hours for people with complex needs.
Despite this significant level of service provision, the demand for Home Care continues to grow. It is important to note that the allocation of funding for home care across the system, though significant, is finite and services must therefore be delivered within the funding available. Home care is monitored on an on-going basis, to ensure that activity is maximised relative to individual clients’ assessed care needs and within the overall available resources for home care and having regard to demand throughout the year.