Monday 21 October 2019

'No proof of visits' in many homecare invoices


(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A number of private providers of homecare for the HSE in the south of the country submitted invoices without supporting documentation showing proof of their attendance and the time spent with the client.

The HSE internal audit team reviewed 65 invoices for Cork and Kerry from nine suppliers and found non-compliance in 42pc of cases.

The HSE-funded homecare service for the area was unable to get enough private companies to take on homecare packages because of the difficulty getting staff, a HSE audit has revealed.

In the west Cork area only four homecare packages from a possible 16 were taken up by approved providers and in the Cork North Lee region just three out of 10 were accepted.

"The main obstacle is that both the HSE and contracted agencies cannot source staff to facilitate the required homecare packages. This can lead to delayed discharges from acute or community hospitals," said the audit.

It meant that the HSE had to employ unapproved providers to deliver the homecare.

In the case of one private provider, it included HSE branding on its website although there was no service level agreement to support this.

Further investigations found that some of the private providers were invoicing for rates which were higher than agreed to in their service level agreement with the HSE.

Meanwhile, a separate audit of St Kevin's Home Help Services, which operates in Dublin in the Portobello, Harold's Cross and South Circular Road area, found it was not registered as a charity with the Charities Regulator.

It incorrectly stated that the company was exempt from corporation tax.

The agency did not have a website to provide the public or local people using the service with information on the finances, governance and services which it provides.

It operated a meals-on-wheels service but the users were not provided with an official receipt in respect of payments.

It did not have a code of corporate governance.

It experienced ongoing cash-flow difficulties which led to salary cheques being returned unpaid by the bank.

The "company has no borrowings but its cash-flow problems have resulted in delayed payment of payroll taxes due to Revenue," the auditors' report added.

"As the company's liabilities exceeded its assets as per the 2016 annual financial statements, it appears the company was or may be insolvent."

The auditors told the HSE that it should conduct a strategic review to determine the agency's ongoing ability to meet the governance, financial and operational management requirements of its service agreement.

The agency received €470,169 for the year ending December 2016.

This comprised its entire income.

The agency agreed to implement the audit's recommendations.

Irish Independent

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