Family Carers Ireland is very concerned about today’s media reports [16/11/17] on a new Government-backed home care scheme and flatly reject Governments initial plans for same.
“A new Statutory Home Care Scheme cannot be an excuse for charging for the existing, poor quality services on offer. Families could not, and would not, consider paying for such inadequate service provision. Family Carers Ireland has lobbied for many years for a statutory entitlement to home care, but what this cannot mean is a right for Government to simply charge for the current system of home care which is inequitable, inconsistent, fragmented and insufficient” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement, Family Carers Ireland. “We are happy to explore the different funding options for homecare, including co-payment, but only after it has been agreed what a new home care system will look like and the range of supports and services that it would and should include” says Ms. Cox.
There were 2,600 responses to Government’s recent public consultation on the creation of a statutory Home Care Scheme.
Family Carers Ireland made a submission. Key points from this submission include:
- Family Carers Ireland is very concerned that the consultation invites comments on only one funding option, co-payment. It does not present the range of alternative models available, such as taxation, social insurance and private insurance. They also emphasise inadequate service provision and the lack of quality home care services across the country as a key issue which must be addressed and properly regulated.
- The consultation has an inappropriately narrow definition of homecare. It places an emphasis on care for older people instead of broadening this out to all people requiring care; older people, adults and children.
- The consultation also separates critical primary care functions such as physiotherapy and respite into packages of home support. This is too narrow and a suite of core services must be considered, including respite provision, housing adaptation grants, equipment required for safe care in the home, rather than simply extending existing home help and home care package hours.
The public consultation was announced as “a formal home care scheme for older people”. This is too limiting. What about people with disabilities and life-limiting conditions who also require long-term care from a statutory scheme? Any statutory Home Care Scheme must be available to all potential users of home care, and not limited to older people.
Family Carers Ireland launched its ‘Share the Care’ campaign last year and is very concerned that there is a complete absence of any reference in the consultation to a statutory definition of where the ultimate responsibility for care should lie. Family Carers Ireland supports a system which locates primary responsibility with the family, with a secondary duty on the state to support care in specific ways and to act as a last resort where the family is unwilling, or unable, to provide the required care.
Another question raised today is whether carers in receipt of Carers Allowance will be penalised when the new scheme is implemented. This cannot happen under any circumstances. The new scheme should be implemented to support family carers, not penalise them.
The Health Research Board has mentioned Scotland as a model of best practice. Family Carers Ireland would say there are other countries which could be looked at, such as Australia. Ireland does not have to copy anyone but rather take the best practices from different countries and put these into a new framework that would work best for Ireland.
While Family Carers Ireland welcomes the need for a statutory requirement, we do not want this to damage, rather than enhance, the situation for those who provide care in the home. Today’s reports suggests looking at the ‘take’ before the ‘give’. We want to bring about a system that helps ease the current crisis, rather than exacerbate it” said Catherine Cox.