Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Health

Home Care Packages

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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60. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the development of a new model of intensive home supports. [16865/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Programme for Government agreed in 2020 commits the government to ‘Introduce a statutory scheme to support people to live in their own homes, which will provide equitable access to high-quality, regulated home care’.

Consequently, work is on-going within the Department of Health to progress the development of the new statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home-support services. Taking place 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 (i.e., regulations); and (iii) HIQA National Standards for Home Support Services.

In April 2021, 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. A regulatory impact analysis will be undertaken by the Department in 2022 to ensure effectiveness and mitigate risks.

In collaboration with HIQA and in consultation with the Health Service Executive and other key informants, the Department developed draft regulations and a targeted stakeholder consultation was undertaken in January 2022. Evaluating the feedback of this consultation is informing amendments in the draft regulations in advance of a public consultation planned in Q2 2022.

On 24th February, the ESRI published a report on the demand for and cost of home support. This is the final output from a programme of research that the ESRI has undertaken to support the Department of Health to progress the development of the new home support scheme. This research will form an important part of the evidence base for the development of a sustainable funding model for home support services in the context of our ageing population. Government approval will be sought in due course on any proposed legislation to provide for a financial support scheme, taking into consideration the cost associated with the various options.

In addition, work is ongoing in relation to the development of a reformed model of service delivery for the new scheme. In 2021, funding was secured for the Health Service Executive to: (i) progress the roll-out of interRAI as the standard assessment tool for care-needs in the community; (ii) pilot a reformed model of service-delivery for home-support; and (iii) establish a National Office for Home Support Services.

The Pilot for testing of a reformed model of service for the delivery for home-support is fully operational. It commenced in November in CHO 8, which is the first of the four pilot sites. The three other sites CHO2, CHO 4 and CHO 7 became operational in January 2022. Funding has been approved for 128 interRAI Care Needs Facilitators to progress the national rollout of interRAI as the standard assessment tool for care-needs. The interRAI outputs and pilot site evaluation will be critical to the development of the new home-support scheme. A National Home Support Office is in the process of being established.


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