The Programme for Government (2020) commits to the introduction of “a statutory scheme to support people to live in their own homes, which will provide equitable access to high-quality, regulated home care.” The Department is in the process of developing a statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home-support. The new scheme will provide equitable and transparent access to high-quality services based on a person’s assessed care-needs.
In parallel with this, the Department has committed to establishing a Cross Departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group. The role of the group will be to facilitate the views of stakeholders and examine workforce challenges in home support and nursing homes. Potential areas to be considered include recruitment, retention, training, career development, and the sustainable employment of home care workers into the future.
Ireland operates a managed employment permits system maximising the benefits of economic migration and minimising the risk of disrupting Ireland’s labour market. The Critical Skills and Ineligible Occupations Lists are subject to twice-yearly review which is predicated on a formalised and evidence-based process which involves consideration of the research undertaken by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (Solas), the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), the National Skills Council, and input by relevant Government Departments in addition to the public consultation phase. Submissions to the review process are also considered by the Economic Migration Policy Interdepartmental Group chaired by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and which includes the Department of Health.
The most recent review of the occupation’s lists announced on 27th October and the preceding review, announced on 14 June did not recommend that home care workers be removed from the ineligible list. There is evidence of other factors driving the sector’s difficulty in attracting workers, such as the contracts of employment and terms and conditions being offered, failure to guarantee hours, and the lack of travel and subsistence payments. It is noted that in the submissions provided by the sector that approximately 75% of staff in home care roles are employed on a part-time basis.
Home care workers are currently on the Ineligible Occupations List and in order to have an occupation removed from the ineligible list, there needs to be a clear demonstration that recruitment difficulties are solely due to skills and labour shortages in Ireland and the EEA and not to other factors such as salary and/or employment conditions.
Removing Home Care workers from the ineligible list will not address the workforce challenges in the home care sector. A longer-term approach is required to address these challenges and my Department is committed to working with relevant stakeholders to seek to address these issues.