Enabling people with care-needs to continue to live independently at home for as long as possible is a long-standing objective of the Government. To advance this, the Government is committed to establishing a new statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home-support services, which the Department of Health is currently developing.
It is intended that the new scheme will provide equitable and transparent access to high-quality services based on a person’s assessed care-needs, and that it will operate consistently across the country. It will build 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 as well as supporting family and unpaid carers.
The national roll-out of interRAI as the single assessment tool (incorporating the assessment of carers’ needs) will be integral to the new scheme, underpinning the provision of one streamlined process for responding to the evolving care-needs of the individual, from entry-level home-support through to intensive care in a residential setting. The system of regulation will ensure public confidence in the services provided as well as safeguarding service-users.
As reflected by the National Carers' Strategy, the needs of family carers encompass a wide range of areas and involve a number of Government departments. In relation to my own role as Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, I am committed to listening to family carers and their representative organisations and working with my Government colleagues to ensure that we are providing the most appropriate supports to help sustain carers in their caring role. I held a roundtable with family carers on 15 September to hear about their experience as carers and how we can best support them in their caring role, in particular, given the challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
It should be noted that under the existing National Carers' Strategy, a range of measures have been introduced or extended by the Department of Health to support family carers in recent years. Since September 2018, free GP visit cards have been extended to persons in receipt of the Carer’s Allowance. The Programme for Government commits to further extending this service to recipients of the Carer's Support Grant.
In addition, the Winter Plan will provide a very substantial increase in the number of home care hours available. The new “Home First” approach, emphasises reablement and providing extensive home support packages for those with more complex needs, including people with dementia, who are also being supported through the recruitment of 10 additional dementia advisors.