(14 April 2020) Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people, today called on the Minister for Health to ensure there is a nationally coordinated response to manage the impact of COVID-19 on home care provision.
It is expected that up to 3,000 home care workers may be deployed to nursing home settings in the coming weeks to support the COVID-19 response measures which means that some people are being told that their home supports are being reduced or suspended.
Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action said, ‘We already have a home care system that is under-resourced and depends on the efforts of 195,000 family carers. Withdrawing home care supports from a system that supports hundreds of thousands of people in order to fill a gap in nursing homes for 31,000 people makes no sense and will cause a crisis in home care provision. The State needs to put in place adequate measures to protect and support all older people regardless of their location.’
Home care supports are health and social care services, administered by HSE staff or contracted providers, which help older people, with varying degrees of frailty, thereby supporting their choice and preference to remain living in their own homes as opposed to residential care.
Paddy Connolly cited concern about the arbitrary withdrawal of home supports without appropriate assessment or planning saying ‘We are aware of one situation where a couple, both aged over 70, both cocooning and both wheelchair users who had their full home support withdrawn with no assessment and no conversation with them.’
‘It is unacceptable that people are being left at risk and without information as their home care is withdrawn with immediate effect. It is causing unnecessary fear among people whose health is compromised and placing considerable strain on their families, leaving many people in an unsafe situation at a time of crisis’ Connolly said.
Commenting on the existing weaknesses in the provision of home care Paddy Connolly said ‘There is little value placed on both the care of older people and the frontline workers providing that care. The COVID-19 crisis has shown the disparity in how we value home care versus institutionalised care. It has laid bare the weaknesses in the provision of home care and highlighted the urgent need for Government to plan for an integrated care pathway which includes both care in the home and in residential settings’ he said.