Thursday, 24 October 2019
Department of Health
Home Care Packages Administration
158. To ask the Minister for Health if he will consider carrying out a cost based analysis of the amount of home care support hours outsourced to private operators standing at 50% to examine whether this is value for money (details supplied). [43863/19]
Home Support services for older people are provided either by directly employed staff or by voluntary and private providers who have formal tender arrangements with the HSE to deliver the services.
The National Service Plan 2019 set a target to deliver 18.26 million hours to over 53,000 people, including 360,000 hours as part of an Intensive Home care Package. By the end of July more than 10 million hours of home support had been delivered nationally and almost 52,000 people were in receipt of the service. The latest preliminary data available to me indicates that this has increased to over 11.8 million hours by the end of August.
Despite this significant level of provision, demand for home support continues to grow and nationally over 7,000 people have been assessed and are waiting for either new or additional services.
I acknowledge that in some cases access to the service may take longer than we would like. However, the HSE has assured the Department that people on the waiting list are reviewed, as funding becomes available, to ensure that individual cases continue to be dealt with on a priority basis within the available resources and as determined by the local front line staff who know and understand the clients’ needs, and who undertake regular reviews of those care needs to ensure that the services being provided remain appropriate.
In line with commitments given in the Programme for Government we have made improved access to home support services a priority in Budget 2020. An additional investment of €52 million is being made in 2020 which will provide over 19.2 million hours of home support. This is 1 million hours more than the 2019 target and represents a substantial increase in service provision. This investment is focused on enabling older people to remain at home and, as appropriate, provision of hours will also be targeted at times of peak demand, at the beginning and end of the year, to ensure more timely egress from hospital for older people.
I have asked the HSE to address the cost-based analysis aspect of the Deputy’s question.