Written answers

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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168. To ask the Minister for Health the actions he will take regarding the employment terms and conditions and contracts of employment in the home care sector that have according to his Department been factors in the shortage of homecare workers rather than a demonstratable labour shortage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53185/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Programme for Government (2020) commits to the introduction of “a statutory scheme to support people to live in their own homes, which will provide equitable access to high-quality, regulated home care.” The Department is in the process of developing a statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home-support. The new scheme will provide equitable and transparent access to high-quality services based on a person’s assessed care-needs.

In parallel with this, the Department has committed to establishing a Cross Departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group. The role of the group will be to facilitate the views of stakeholders and examine the evidence regarding the skills and labour market shortage, in home support and nursing homes. Potential areas to be considered include recruitment, retention, skills development, and sustainable employment of home carers into the future.

The National Skills Bulletin 2021 produced by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS on behalf of the National Skills Council (NSC) presents an overview of the Irish labour market at occupational level. In relation to Care Workers and Home Carers it reports that employment numbers fell for this occupation over the five-year period, with the decline relating primarily to the previous year, most likely due to COVID-19. Despite this, there was a high number of recent job hires in 2020, indicating that job churn is a factor for this occupation. There is also a high share (24%) of those working in this occupation aged 55 years and older which may affect replacement demand. Despite these issues, there was a high volume of vacancies advertised for care workers and demand for care workers is likely to be sustained given Ireland's ageing demographic profile.

On 27th October 2021 Minister English announced changes to the employment permits system on foot of the most recent review of the occupations lists. It was not considered appropriate to make any changes to the eligibility for employment permits for Home Carers on this occasion as there was insufficient evidence that the issue is not one of terms and conditions.

A large proportion of the staff who work in the homecare industry are employed by companies operating in the private sector and as such do not fall under the remit of the Department of Health or its agencies. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the terms and conditions, or the contracts of employment being offered in the private sector.

However, the continuing reopening of the economy and the labour market over the next few months should help to ease the labour shortages in the home care sector.


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