The development of a new, standalone statutory scheme and system of regulation for home-support services is a long-standing objective of the Government, which the Department of Health is currently progressing. Work is on-going to determine the optimal model for, and approach to the development of, the statutory scheme within the broader context of the Sláintecare reforms.
The development of such a scheme is a complex process, building on the HSE's continual enhancement of existing service-provision and on emerging good practice across the current system of health and social care delivery, including in relation to workforce planning, will be central to this.
In relation to the revised contact of employment for healthcare support assistants, in April 2014, following a Labour Court Recommendation, the HSE implemented new contracts for its directly employed home help staff. More recently, in 2017, the HSE engaged with SIPTU under a WRC Conciliation to review current home help staff contracts, as provided for in the 2014 Home Help Agreement. The aim was to ensure that contracted arrangements reflect the needs of the service, to maximise contracted hours for HSE directly employed staff and to take further steps towards professionalising the Home Support Service.
The agreement, under the auspices of the WRC will provide for:-
- an increase in contracted hours for over 90% of home support staff if they choose to accept the HSE offers
- a change of title from Home Help Worker to Health Care Support Assistant to better reflect the nature of the services being provided
- the introduction of rostered arrangements to give staff greater certainty regarding their hours of attendance with travel time factored into these arrangements
- assignment of work bases
- a requirement that all new Home Help staff should possess, on recruitment, the minimum qualification equivalent to a relevant QQI approved major award at Level 5 or higher.
The contracts for Home Help staff have been agreed and are being rolled out. Their roll out is subject to available resources and in conjunction with FÓRSA instruction to Home Help Managers.