Limerick care services provider wants more done to attract new workers

Michael Wright Home Instead Director of Corporate Operations

A LIMERICK provider of home care services for the elderly has said that with 95 vulnerable people on a waiting list for home help, more needs to be done to encourage people into the caring profession.

Employment Minister Damien English recently announced that there would be up to 1,000 general employment permits issued next year for home carers from outside the EU in a bid to reduce waiting lists for the service.

But Limerick-based director of corporate services with Home Instead, Michael Wright, told the Limerick Post that “much more could be done”.

With a growing list of vulnerable people in need of care, and not enough people available to provide that care, he said that other areas need to be examined to make it feasible for workers to enter the field.

Mr Wright said that some of the barriers to people who would like to take up home-care employment are grounded in a system which does not reward people for work.

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“A lot of people want to work part time but they are restricted If they are going to lose social welfare or medical card entitlements because of working over a certain number of hours, they are not going to take up that work.”

He pointed out that most of the clients who require support need it in the morning to get up, shower, and eat breakfast, making home-care work particularly suited to part-timers.

One of the criticisms levelled at providers is that carers may have to travel long distances between clients and they are not paid for their travel time.

“We pay the carers a mileage allowance because, in Limerick, many of our clients are rural, but we don’t currently have a way of compensating them for their travel time.”

Home care is currently provided either directly by the HSE or by a provider contracted to the HSE.

The company has 150 care staff looking after more than 300 clients in Limerick

Those who take up the non-EU work permits must be offered full-time positions with a minimum salary of €27,000 per year and a stipulated minimum continuous shift-length of four hours per working day.