Thursday 26 April 2018

HSE paying agents millions to provide home care services

Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

The Health Service Executive (HSE) pays hundreds of firms millions of euro every year to provide home care services to more than 60,000 people, including the elderly.

The 2010 budget for home help and care services is €341m -- up significantly from €239.5m in 2006 when these services were expanded as part of a move towards community-based health.

More than 150 private companies provide carer services to the disabled and the elderly, although 90pc of these services are provided directly by HSE staff.

The money is paid to these firms to cover patients who qualify for public carer and help services.

Three of the companies featured in the 'Prime Time' investigation into abuse or insufficient care of the elderly in their homes received funding of more than €10.5m from the HSE over the past three years.

Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show that the lion's share of the funding, or more than €8m, was paid to Dublin-based Clontarf Home Care Service -- a not-for-profit organisation.

The money was paid in three tranches of more than €2m between 2007 and 2009.

The programme also showed a carer employed by the company force-feeding medicine, with food, to an elderly patient. That staff member was suspended before the firm was made aware of the secret filming, according to the company.

Roisin Clohessy, manager at the firm, added new procedures and protocols were being put in place for the administering of medication to all patients while training and vetting programmes were also being overhauled.

Criticare, a firm which was found to have under-qualified staff at the time of the investigation, got more than €500,000 in funding.

Company owner Joseph McGrath, told the Irish Independent yesterday his company had been treated unfairly because it had featured with other firms who were accused of abuse.

"There were no claims of abuse from our staff in the programme," he said. "Our issues were related to training and employment but we are fully compliant now. A training problem was raised because someone slipped through the net but that has been dealt with."

All Communicarers, another company featured in the film, received just over €1.7m in the three-year period.

Irish Independent

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