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Health | To ask the Minister for Health the degree to which homecare continues to be adequately staffed and supported in order to reduce pressure on hospitals

To ask the Minister for Health the degree to which homecare continues to be adequately staffed and supported in order to reduce pressure on hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Government is committed to the development of improved community-based services, shifting care to the home, and offering greater choice for older people. As Minister with responsibility for this area I have prioritised home support services so that additional funding secured in Budget 2021, to provide an extra 5 million hours, has been maintained under Budget 2022. In 2021 some 20.4 million hours were provided to over 55,000 people. This is about 2.9 million more hours compared to 2020, an increase of 17%. 

It takes some time between funding approval and the actual delivery of home support hours, and certain regions are experiencing increased pressures due to staff availability.  Preliminary activity data shows that at the end of March 2022 over 5.1 million home support hours were delivered nationally to 55,080 people. Also, as of this date, there were 286 people assessed and waiting for funding for new or additional home support, while 5,458 people were assessed and approved for Home Support but are awaiting a carer to be assigned.  As of 17 May, the HSE reported 90 patients nationally who are waiting to be discharged with home support.   

The demand for home support and its importance as an alternative to long stay care has grown considerably over the past number of years.  Delivering this enhanced capacity requires substantial recruitment. This has been affected due to the strategic workforce challenges in the home support sector.  The HSE is endeavouring to prioritise service for clients with the highest care needs, to ensure that the service can commence for those who require it most urgently.  The HSE continues to advertise on an ongoing basis for Health Care Support Assistants and to recruit as many suitable candidates as possible.  Due to the nature of the role, this recruitment is normally conducted at a very local level.   

I am very aware of the strategic workforce challenges in the home support and nursing homes sector, and I have held multiple meetings with relevant key stakeholders in recent months on these matters.  I have established a cross-Departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group to examine strategic workforce challenges in front-line carer roles in home support and nursing homes.  The Group provides a forum for agreement on strategic approaches to address the workforce challenges in the sector nationwide. Later this year the Group will provide me with a set of recommendations based on its key findings, and a proposed action plan to support implementation of these recommendations.


Dept of Health

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