Media Release:

In 2020 The Homecare Coalition called for €123m in additional Home Support Hours. The additional 4.7m Home Support Hours and the Home First Initiative announced in the HSE Winter Plan yesterday will have a combined cost of €138m but are only receiving a qualified welcome from Family Carers Ireland.

However the wider context is important to understand,” says Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland. “Family Carers have been placed under extraordinary pressure during the Covid-19 crisis with many of the supports such as transport and day care services, on which they are so dependent, being reduced or even cancelled. The HSE plan is very clear on GP burnout and putting preventive measures in place. What about the thousands of family carers who are caring 24/7 without essential respite and day care services? What about carer burnout? Whilst this plan attempts to address the significant challenges within our hospitals where is the plan to address the crisis in tens of thousands of family homes. So sadly whilst there may be many things to welcome within the plan it doesn’t change the historical pattern that, in the final analysis, the health system prioritises itself at the expense of family carers.”


Family Carers Ireland welcomes the additional 4.7 million home care hours but have grave concerns around the discharge to assess model and how this will work in practice. The plan aims to double existing home support hours to support those with high and moderate levels of frailty, including people with dementia. It also includes the roll out of a single patient assessment tool, and gives clinicians three pathways to support patient discharge back to the community using a discharge to assess model underpinned with a philosophy of home first.  Family Carers Ireland is worried about the additional pressure this will place on our members if other vital supports such as day care services, transport, home care and essential therapies which have been significantly reduced and in some cases eliminated are not reinstated.


Ms Cox added,The plan also causes concern with regard to its sharp focus on the rapid turnaround of patients. The Home First Initiative is all about getting patients home and assessing them afterwards. Our fear is families will be pressurised to take their loved one home without any guarantee of supports or appropriate housing aids and therefore we will be advising our members not to co-operate with this model as we believe that an adequate package of home care services must be guaranteed beforehand through an agreed transfer of care protocol.  There is a lot of detailed work required to ensure that yet more burden is not placed on the already exhausted legion of family carers who are doing such vital work to keep the pressure off our health services”.


See www.familycarers.ie