Following Minister Harris’ announcement recommending statutory home care provisions, Family Carers Ireland welcomed the opportunity for consultation on the proposed home care scheme which took place from July to October last year. Family Carers Ireland along with more than 355,000 family carers across Ireland have lobbied for this change over many years.
The extremely high level of over 2,600 responses to the HSE’s call for submissions demonstrates the importance of this issue for families and communities across the country.
Whilst the findings of the report are welcomed, Family Carers Ireland has a number of concerns around the process including the need for a broader definition of ‘home care’. The proposed definition for home care refers only to home help hours, home care packages and intensive home care packages however a far wider remit is required, according to the organisation, which incorporates the need for respite (regular and emergency), housing adaptation needs, equipment; and addresses the psychological needs of the Family Carer and the person being cared for.
• Family Carers Ireland urges the authority to clearly define and extend what will be included in the new scheme for home care before any discussion can take place on funding such a system
• It is also calling on Government to ensure that the statutory entitlement to home care is extended to people of all ages.
Speaking on behalf of Family Carers Ireland, Catherine Cox commented, “Family Carers Ireland is urging Government to consider the needs of all vulnerable people, not just the elderly. Family Carers across Ireland are currently in crisis, some are stuck in hospitals awaiting home care packages and others have little or no access to essential services including respite and therapies. There is a great opportunity now to ensure that a holistic well-thought-out system is put in place, as our caring population is on the rise, to ensure that adequate home care support is available in the future.”
Can we afford not to support Family Carers?
• In the last budget provisions of over €1 Billion was allocated to Nursing/Residential Care under the Fair Deal scheme whilst just €350 Million was allocated towards home care thereby providing an incentive towards nursing home care over home care.
• Family Carers save the State over 10 billion each year by caring for their loved ones in their own home. This frees up hospital beds and greatly reduces the pressure on the Health Service.
• With demographics changes predicting that by 2030 one in five people in Ireland will be a Family Carer, the opportunity exists to overhaul the current system in favour of quality driven supports and services which addresses a variety of needs and has to flexibility to meet the changing needs of those who access it.
Family Carers Ireland accepts that the process will take a number of years to come to fruition and the organisation looks forward to playing a meaningful and active part in the development of an inclusive and beneficial home care system. However in the short term it urges the Minister to consider immediate investment in home care for Family Carers who are currently in crisis and desperate need of supports right now. This could be done through the funding of a refreshed strategy for Family Carers with ring fenced funding.
Family Carers and their loved ones need home care support, respite and access to essential services whilst they await the introduction of the statutory entitlement to Home Care.
Family Carers Ireland provides a range of services for Family Carers through its 26 centres and bases nationwide. The organisation is currently running its year-long ‘Carers in Crisis’ campaign to highlight a lack in resources available across the country including home care, respite and the ‘postcode lottery’ that exists whereby where you live determines what supports you can or cannot access.