Home care providers and workers are still without sufficient PPE
The Home Care Coalition has urged the Department of Health and the HSE to take immediate action to support people experiencing a stoppage in their home care provision as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and to provide sufficient levels of PPE and other supports to home care workers and family carers.
The Coalition has also implored Government to commit to supporting older people, people with disabilities and family carers after the pandemic, voicing concern that there has been no commitment to the statutory home care scheme in the policy framework issued by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
The Coalition, which is made up of 23 leading charities, not-for-profits and campaigners, has said that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for the next Government to implement a single integrated statutory system of long-term care covering domestic homes and nursing homes, and a wider variety of options in between.
The Coalition is seeking commitments from the Department of Health and the HSE to resource home support services to provide support to all recipients who wish to continue to receive home care at this time, and to fully reinstate all services to at least the same level once the outbreak has passed.
Home care providers and recipients are currently experiencing a significant lapse in resourcing and provision of Home Support Services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated 20% reduction in the provision of home supports since March. Meanwhile, home care providers continuing to offer services are not being supplied with sufficient levels of PPE or guidance on its use.
“The current lack of resources in the home support service to provide support to service users has been exacerbated by long-term underfunding and ongoing staff shortages, problems which are now putting home care workers and those who use these services at risk,” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement for Family Carers Ireland, and a spokesperson for the Coalition.
“With the closure of many essential services such as respite and day care, home support is needed more than ever to provide vital assistance to older people, people with disabilities and family carers. It is unacceptable that anyone who needs home care at this time is being forced to go without it because of a lack of resources.”
The spokesperson continued, “It is of great concern to us that the framework drafted by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael does not reference the statutory home care scheme at all, with only brief references to groups who are most at-risk such as older people and people with disabilities. These groups who are cocooning have struggled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and must be prioritised for support by the next Government. The COVID-19 outbreak has further demonstrated the need for a single integrated statutory system of long-term care covering domestic homes and nursing homes, and a wider variety of options in between.”
The Home Care Coalition have also urged the Department of Health and the HSE for support for home care workers and family carers, including provision of sufficient levels of PPE and guidance on its use. The Coalition propose that home care workers should be supported with their childcare, accommodation and other care needs to ensure they can provide vital services during the pandemic, and a supplementary payment put in place for those whose hours of work have been significantly reduced. The Home Care Coalition also advise that family carers must be recognised as a ‘vulnerable group’ by the Public Health Emergency Committee, and that family carers should be provided with a guidance document with advice and protocols for carers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Spokesperson for the Coalition Pat McLoughlin, CEO of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said “The COVID-19 crisis has left older people, people with disabilities, family carers and home care workers without the support they need. The withdrawal or reduction of supports leads to all of those involved or receiving services from this sector being put at risk. We are urging the Department of Health and the HSE to act quickly and provide these groups with the protection and support they need.”