Major shortage of home carers for the elderly in Mid West

ALMOST 400  in the Mid West are without home care services, 124 of them in Limerick.

A shortage of qualified people to take up the jobs means the HSE is struggling to fill 40 vacant posts in their service.

A report by the newly-formed Home Care Providers Alliance, whose members collectively provide more than half of all home care packages and home support in Ireland, has slammed what it describes as an “Eircode lottery” in the provisionof home care in Ireland.

The report, ‘The Future of Home Care’, cites what it describes as the “dysfunction in the current home care system, including the inconsistent ways in which care needs are delivered across Ireland, the lack of centralised independent standards and regulation, and State policies that hamper employment and recruitment efforts within the sector. These issues have contributed to a home care waiting list of more than 5,000 people.”

In response to a query on the numbers in need of home care in Limerick, a spokesperson for HSE Mid West Community Healthcare said that despite increased funding being allocated in 2021  “demand continues to outweigh available resources both in the public and private sectors”.

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“At the end of February, there were 124 older people waiting on a Home Supports service Limerick and 48 others who were waiting for additional hours.

“Across the Mid West, 398 clients are waiting for a home support service and 159 clients are waiting for additional hours. This is a significant reduction from January 2020 when 680 people were waiting for a Home Supports Service, and 328 people were waiting for additional hours,” the spokesperson said.

“Home care services are now delivered to over 4,600 clients each month. HSE Mid West Community Healthcare now delivers approximately 140,000 hours of home care services per month, up from a monthly average of 117,700 hours in 2020.”

The spokesperson added that the main reason for the delay in initiating or extending the service is due to lack of available carers in particular areas throughout the Mid West.

Another exacerbating factor is that when carers are recruited to the HSE posts, many of them are leaving jobs with private care companies, who in turn fill contracts for the HSE, meaning the overall number of carers available in the system isn’t increased.

“There are in excess of 40 Home Care Support Assistant posts to be recruited across Mid West Community Healthcare. A number of new staff are being actively being processed for posts and three new recruitment campaigns will be launched across the Mid West in April,” the spokesperson added.