Minster Brady welcomes report on Implementation of the Home Care Package Scheme
Minister Brady today welcomed the launch of a report of the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) entitled “Implementation of the Home Care Package Scheme”.
The Minister highlighted that “a main feature of Government policy in recent years has been to develop services to allow older people to remain living at home and in their communities for as long as possible”. Where this is not feasible Older People should have access to quality, affordable long-term residential care.
The Minister pointed out that, “unprecedented levels of investment had been provided to develop community based provision for older people over 2006-8, with just over €200m additional base funding made available to the HSE to develop such services nationally. These included the new Home Care Package (HCP) Initiative introduced in 2006, and the expansion of existing Home-Help, Meals-on-Wheels and Day/Respite services around the country”.
The Minister noted that the NESF report on the €120 million a year Home Care Package programme, which focused on this initiative primarily from a policy point of view, acknowledges that this was a well thought out policy and that many older people in receipt of the packages are happy with the service. She accepts that there are lessons to be learned from implementation of the initiative but also stressed that this major initiative is only 3 years old and the HSE has been building up the service since that time. Implementation of Home Care Packages will have to be refined to ensure improved delivery in the most effective and efficient manner possible, in line with resource availability. She said that calls for expansion of the service would be particularly difficult, given overall economic and financial constraints.
The Department had already been working with the HSE to evaluate and review implementation of this initiative and, in line with commitments in Towards 2016, commissioned an independent evaluation earlier this year. This is now almost completed and is expected to be formally submitted to the Minister for Health and Children by PA Consulting very shortly, with a view to implementing its recommendations from early next year. It is anticipated that these will include recommendations around standardised access to and operation of the Scheme.
The Department of Health and Children is also considering the Consultation Paper launched earlier this year by the Law Reform Commission, entitled “Legal Aspects of Carers”. This report considers the legal issues around home care provision and makes a number of recommendations in the area of Standards and Regulations. It also recommends giving a function to the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in this area. Any changes of this nature will require primary legislation and detailed consultation with the stakeholders concerned.
Minister Brady indicated that “the need for better regulation for home based care has been recognised for some time and well accepted by the Department and the HSE. The various issues now being reinforced resonate beyond just Home Care Packages into the broader area of mainstream home care service.” The HSE has been working with private providers over the last year and has drafted a voluntary code of Quality Standards for Home Care. These voluntary Standards cover, amongst other things, vetting and training and will be considered by the Department with a view to adoption as policy within the next year in tandem with considering the overall legislative framework required.