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19 Jan 2022

Louth TD calls for update on homecare crisis from Minister

Deputy Ó Murchú raises issue in Dáil

Louth TD calls for update on homecare crisis from Minister

Louth TD seeks update on homecare crisis from Minister

The difficulties families in Louth have in getting carers, so their loved ones can stay at home, was raised in the Dáil last week by Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú.

The Dundalk TD tabled a question, answered by Minister of State, Mary Butler, seeking an update on plans to resolve the homecare crisis.

A task force was established earlier this year by the Department of Health to look at the issue of recruitment and retention of qualified home carers and Ó Murchú sought an update on this.

In reply, Minister Butler said that “work is ongoing to progress the development of a new statutory scheme to support people to live in their own homes. 

“A national home support office is in the process of being established and a home support pilot commenced this month in one site, with the other pilot sites to be fully operational by January 2022.”

In response, Deputy Ó Murchú said: “I know that a lot of things are being considered. We have to look at pay scales and any incentivisation we can provide. 

“We know of the difficulties of people, some of whom were contracted staff, who would state that they were not going to get paid expenses for travel. Every obstacle possible was being put in their way. 

“And we all know that the big issue is weekend support. Obviously, we need to look at the issue of the rates of pay. 

“Again, I accept the difficulties in providing a timeline, but we need that task force to have its inaugural meeting. I accept that considerable work has probably been done, but we need the task force to put the priorities that are required in place and on the agenda, to be enacted by the Government as quickly as possible. 

“We are all dealing with families coming to us who just do not have sufficient care.”

In reply, Minister Butler said:

"Delays are occurring at the moment because we have delays in providing home care workers into specific areas. As the Deputy said, weekends and rural areas, especially, can be very problematic. 

"I have put in place a cross-departmental strategic workforce advisory committee. 

"The challenge we have, however, is that many people have left the home care sector and gone into nine-to-five jobs and into retail. 

"We are, therefore, challenged but we are working with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to look at different things to see that people on social welfare, for example, might be able to work a certain number of hours and students in receipt of the SUSI grant might be able to work enhanced hours.

"We are trying to throw the kitchen sink at this to resolve it."

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