Promised deal will see elderly cared for in their homes
A new deal on homecare, to allow the elderly and disabled people stay in their own homes for as long as possible has been promised by the Government.
It follows growing demands for more financial assistance from the State to provide homecare packages as a statutory right and alternative to a place in a nursing home.
A fresh focus has been placed on the issue following the documentary 'We Need To Talk About Dad', which told the story of Brendan Courtney's father.
However, no timescale has yet been set out for the introduction of a statutory scheme - which would require legislation as well as regulation of the home care industry.
Minister for Older People Helen McEntee told the Irish Independent yesterday it was not as simple as copying the Fair Deal scheme, which provides financial support to older people for nursing home care.
Details of a public consultation process which will invite submissions on the scheme are currently being worked out and will be launched in the coming months.
Currently the only statutory scheme is the State-subsidised Fair Deal for nursing homes, where an older person has their means and health needs assessed to determine how much they should pay towards the weekly cost of around €1,200 for their care.
"Establishing exactly what type of scheme will work is a complicated process and while the Department of Health will build on the success of Fair Deal, we cannot simply copy or integrate homecare into it," Ms McEntee said. It was important that any new scheme did not interfere with informal home-care arrangements which many older people currently relied on to remain at home.
"The consultation process will allow those who have views on the topic to have their say, including older people themselves, their families and healthcare workers."
Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea said he would introduce a Private Member's Bill next week to allow an older person who qualified for Fair Deal receive funding for a home-care package instead if they could be safely looked after at home.
Currently, the HSE provides home-care packages for free to around 17,000 people - but there are not enough and some elderly have to opt for a nursing home.
Ed Murphy of Home Instead, a spokesman for private home-care providers, said there should be a better choice of options.