Press Release

Statement by Minister for Older People, Áine Brady T.D. on home care services

The Minister for Older People, Áine Brady T.D. said this evening The HSE provides home care services to over 65,000 people in their homes every year. This is very much in line with Government policy that older people should be facilitated to live as long as possible in their own homes. As part of these services there are about 150 private providers catering for around 6,000 people but the vast majority of these would have a HSE involvement also on a contract basis.

“There are currently a number of safeguards which have been put in place in the past number of years for older people receiving care including

  • A new funding and regulatory regime for residential care for Older People. This has resulted in the introduction of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, and the bringing into force of new regulatory standards for the long-term residential care sector.
  • A nationwide network of Elder Abuse Care Workers has been put in place to deal with allegations of abuse.

“The central focus of Government policy for older people who need care is that they should be able to receive quality care and they should be at the centre of all decisions regarding their care. The key element that must exist between providers of care be they public or private, and the recipient of that care, has to be trust. This is fundamental to any service and particularly so in the case of health or personal social services where recipients will in all likelihood be vulnerable.

“I have seen the Primetime Investigates programme due to be shown tonight and it is clear that in the cases shown, the behaviour and practices highlighted breach that trust in an unacceptable way. I am particularly concerned at the effects that any breach of trust has on the care recipients and their families and loved ones.

“In relation to the 4 cases highlighted the HSE is investigating these now and if there was a lack of suitable care the HSE will terminate the contracts and/or change providers. The HSE has also requested all of its local managers to review their own services and their private providers and ascertain that they are satisfied with the care being provided.

“The HSE has been working with the Department of Health and Children on a number of key initiatives which will strengthen overall governance in this area and will be implemented and published in the first half of 2011. These include:-

  • Standardised Access and Operational Guidelines for delivery of Home Care packages ( recently approved by the Minister for Health and Children)
  • Adoption of a Voluntary Code – Quality Guidelines for Home Care Support Services for Older People
  • Implementation of Procurement Framework for home care services (currently underway), and
  • Introduction of Procedural Guidelines for the Home Help Service (to standardise access to and allocation of home help hours).

“In addition the Department is examining the regulation of this sector in the overall context of Licencing of Health Care Providers and in the context of the Law Reform Commission report on the Legal Aspects of Carers.

“Any person who receives HSE services, or contracted services, has access to a Public Health Nurse and these key health care professionals are alert to any concerns about the quality of care. HSE also has complaint mechanisms and an Elder Abuse Network.

“In responding to referrals the HSE provides a discreet and confidential service which may include counselling, mediation and anger management as appropriate. I would encourage anybody who encounters elder abuse to report it to a GP, a Health Service Executive social worker, a public health nurse, a member of the Garda Siochána, or to someone they trust.”

The HSE’s Information Line 1850 24 1850 is available Monday to Saturday 8am-8pm for those who wish to make a complaint or access the Elder Abuse reporting service..