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Four areas chosen to trial state homecare scheme

Pilot schemes in Cork, Galway, Laois-Offaly and Dublin will start on November 1 – three years after statutory scheme first pledged


Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler. Photo: Conor McCabe/PA.

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler. Photo: Conor McCabe/PA.

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler. Photo: Conor McCabe/PA.

Four areas of the country have been chosen to test the much-delayed statutory homecare scheme .

The sites are in west Cork, Galway, Laois-Offaly and Dublin. A statutory scheme was first promised in 2018 but it has suffered from a range of setbacks including the pandemic and the HSE cyber attack.

Junior Older People Minister Mary Butler yesterday said the pilots in the four areas will start on November 1.

The aim is to have a national scheme in place some time next year which could give people a legal right to a minimum level of home care.

Currently people apply for home care to the HSE but there is no guarantee they will get the service or the level of care they need.

She said although waiting lists for the service have now fallen, there is a serious problem in recruitment with some areas badly hit in trying to get homecare staff.

Homecare staff have said the cost of providing their own transport to visit people in rural areas is a particular financial burden. Pay and conditions also remain a serious issue.

Ms Butler was speaking at the annual conference of Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) which represents private companies providing homecare – most if it outsourced by the HSE.

She said a homecare office is also planned for the Department of Health. Ms Butler is drawing up the heads of a Bill for the regulation of home care but this will not be ready until next year.

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She said there are currently 478 people waiting for approval for funding for their home care, down from 7,800 in January last year.

An extra €150m was provided for home care last year and she expects the funding to be maintained in the upcoming Budget.

Earlier, Joseph Musgrave, chief executive of HCCI said: “As we face into another winter without a statutory homecare entitlement our most vulnerable will miss out on critical homecare support. Waiting lists are going back up, and in some areas of the country homecare is full.

“A cruel lesson of the pandemic is just how important home care is for our elderly and disabled, but the Government have not reacted quickly to engage the sector to plan for the future.”

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