Wednesday, 6 October 2021
Department of Health
Home Care Packages
103. To ask the Minister for Health the status of and the process for the commitment to introduce a statutory homecare scheme to ensure equitable allocation of resources to persons requiring homecare and licensing and regulation of homecare service providers to safeguard its provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48419/21]
Enabling people with care-needs to continue to live independently at home for as long as possible is a priority for the Government. To advance this, the Government is committed to establishing a new, statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home-support services, which the Department of Health is currently developing. It is intended that the new scheme will provide equitable and transparent access to high-quality services based on a person’s assessed care-needs.
Work is on-going within the Department to progress the development of the new scheme within the broader context of the Sláintecare reforms. This work encompasses the development of the regulatory framework for the new scheme; the examination of the options for the financing model for the scheme; and the development of a reformed model of service-delivery.
With the aim of ensuring that all service-users are provided with a standard, high-quality level of care which is safe, effective, and person-centred, it is envisaged that the regulatory framework will comprise (i) primary legislation for the licensing of public and private home support providers; (ii) minimum requirements (regulations); and (iii) HIQA National Standards for Home Support Services.
Earlier this year, Government gave approval to draft a General Scheme and Heads of a Bill to establish a licensing framework for home support providers. This is being progressed by the Department with a view to bringing it through the Houses of the Oireachtas at the earliest opportunity. It is expected that the primary legislation will give the Minister for Health the power to make regulations in respect of minimum requirements which will form the criteria against which a provider’s eligibility to hold a licence will be determined. The Department recently commenced a targeted stakeholder consultation on these draft minimum requirements. In addition, HIQA recently ran a public scoping consultation to inform the development of their National Standards for Home Support Services.
In parallel to this, work is ongoing in relation to the development of a reformed model of service delivery for home support. Within this context, funding was secured in 2021 for the HSE to progress the roll-out of interRAI as the standard assessment tool for care-needs in the community; the pilot of a reformed model of service-delivery for home-support; and the establishment of a National Office for Home Support Services.
Mobilisation of the pilot of a reformed model of service-delivery is expected to commence in November. The pilot will deliver an additional 230,000 hours of home-support in four community healthcare network (CHN) sites over a six-month period. The pilot sites are: (CHO 2) Tuam, Athenry and Loughrea (CHO 4) Bandon, Kinsale and Carrigaline (CHO 7) Ballyfermot and Palmerstown (CHO 8) East Westmeath.
130 posts have been funded for the national rollout of the interRAI Ireland system as the standard assessment tool for care-needs and recruitment for these posts is scheduled to commence in this quarter. In addition, a National Home Support Office will be established before the end of the year.
The Sláintecare Implementation Strategy and Action Plan 2021–2023 commits to the advancement of the development of the new home-support scheme in 2021 and to the commencement of its implementation in 2022. While the new home-support scheme is under development, the Government is prioritising improving access to home-support services. As part of Budget 2021, funding for an additional 5 million hours of home-support was provided. This increased investment will contribute to meeting the Programme for Government commitment to providing equitable access to home-support services.
In relation to home support service provision, data which has been provided since the cyber-attack is provisional and subject to change - at the end of August 2021, the preliminary data indicates that about 13.2 million home support hours had been provided to 53,905 people. This is about 2 million more hours compared to the same period last year.