Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee TD, has today announced that a consultation process is to be launched, with a view to establishing a new statutory homecare scheme. The process will begin in the coming months. Meanwhile, a review by the Health Research Board (HRB) of the way in which homecare services are funded and regulated in four other European countries, which was commissioned by the Department of Health in 2016, is to be published shortly.
Minister McEntee said ‘My priority is to ensure that our older people get the best care possible. For many that care can be provided in their own homes, surrounded by the people and communities that they love. Unfortunately, as a country, the only statutory scheme we have in place at present to care for our elderly is the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, a Fair Deal. I am determined to change this and to establish a new statutory homecare scheme.
“Homecare is an increasingly important part of the supports we offer to older people, and will continue to increase in importance into the future, as our ageing population grows. It is estimated that about 20% of the over 65 population receive some form of community-based support service annually from the State. The HSE’s National Service Plan sets a target to deliver 10.57 million Home Help Hours, 16,750 Home Care Packages (HCPs) and 190 Intensive HCPs for clients with more complex needs. However, homecare is not currently regulated by the State and it is not provided on a statutory basis.
“The Department of Health is currently engaged in a detailed process, which will determine what type of home care scheme is best for Ireland, in relation to both regulation and funding. Preparatory work has already been done in this area, including the HRB review of international best practice, which will be used to inform the development of a new statutory homecare scheme, and to regulate this important sector. Establishing exactly what type of scheme will work is a complicated process and while the Department will build on the success of Fair Deal we cannot simply copy it, or integrate homecare into it.
“In creating a new homecare scheme we need to plan for the projected increase in our older population and to devise a cost-effective and sustainable scheme and regulatory regime. In addition, we must also ensure that we don’t damage what is already in place in homes across Ireland. I know from speaking to older people and their families that many have informal home care arrangements in place. We must ensure that any new scheme, which will contain new regulations, does not endanger or restrict the current informal arrangements which are in place.
“A consultation process, which is planned to begin in the coming months, will allow all those who have views on this topic to have their say, including older people themselves, their families and health care workers. This is a hugely important undertaking, which will have implications for generations of older people. I’m looking forward to engaging with all groups and individuals, as well as politicians from across the political spectrum, to ensure we create a system which will allow people to remain in their homes for as long as possible and be cared for with dignity as they grow old.”