Home support is an important support that enables older people to remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible. It also facilitates timely discharge from acute hospitals. As a Government, we have made improved access to home support services a key priority. In the past four years we have seen sustained investment in these services, with a considerable increase of nearly €140 million in the budget, which has grown from €306 million in 2015 to almost €446 million this year.
The HSE's national service plan provides for a target of almost 18 million home support hours to be provided to 53,182 people. This represents an increase of 800,000 hours and home support for 2,682 more people over last year's target. 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, demand continues to rise.
While the existing home support service is delivering crucial support to many people throughout the country, it needs to be improved to better meet the changing needs of people. That is why we propose to establish a statutory scheme for home support which will improve access to the service and put it on an affordable and sustainable basis, while also introducing a system of regulation that will ensure public confidence. This is a significant and complex undertaking, and the Sláintecare implementation strategy commits to the introduction of the statutory scheme in 2021.