This year’s HSE winter plan was launched on 14 November 2019. Its aim is to ensure that service providers are prepared for the additional external pressures associated with the winter period. The plan is supported by an additional €26 million in winter funding, which is being used to relieve demand for emergency department services, and to support discharge and other initiatives to help hospitals deal with the challenges associated with winter. Specifically, the winter funding will support access to the nursing homes support scheme, home support, transitional care, aids and appliances and other local actions to both facilitate timely hospital discharges and reduce congestion in emergency departments over the winter period.
The Government is investing an additional €52 million in budget 2020 for home support services and next year, the HSE aims to provide over 19.2 million hours, which is 1 million hours more than this year’s target. The investment is focused on enabling older people to remain at home and, as appropriate, provision of hours will also be targeted at times of peak demand at the beginning and end of the year to ensure more timely egress from hospital for older people.
The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to a timely review of the management, operation and funding of national home help services. In fulfilment of this commitment and to enhance the evidence base for the development of the statutory home support scheme, the Department has recently commissioned a review of the management, operation and funding of existing home support service provision. Focusing on the home support services currently funded and provided by the HSE, the findings of this review will ensure that the statutory scheme builds on emerging good practice. Additional funding has been provided in budget 2020 for the testing of the new statutory home support scheme. This investment is a vital step towards the development of the scheme in line with Sláintecare.