A roundtable group of Irish and international experts has called for equal access to home care for everyone, claiming the pandemic highlighted the safety of home care in comparison to institutional settings.
A report compiled by the Global Coalition on Aging urged the Government to act to create statutory home-care schemes, instead of relying on nursing homes.
The experts said that regulatory licensing schemes should be created for all home-care providers, including the HSE. This would mean the same standards would be applied to any group offering care in the home and this would better protect the elderly.
The group said a single system should be put in place to standardise assessment of services; the report noted there was no “national, fit-for-purpose” tool.
They found regulation would strengthen safety and quality standards in home care, and said there should be more co-ordination between services offering home care and the general health services.
The report also called for better supports for family carers, and recommended “social and financial benefits, respite services, information”.
It said this should focus on women, as there are so many female carers in Ireland.
“There is ample evidence that Irish people want to live, and be cared for, at home for as long as possible,” Melissa Gong Mitchell, executive director, Global Coalition on Aging (CGOA), said.
“There is no statutory entitlement providing a right to government-funded home care. People do not have a legal right to home care, or to choose the type of care they receive, or the provider of their care.”
The report recommended that older people be given better information about support options, which would allow them choose different approaches as their needs changed.
Elderly people and their carers should have “fair and transparent standard-care-needs assessment”, Catherine Cox, head of communications and policy with Family Carers Ireland and one of the report authors, said.
The report also called for better training for staff in home care. It said a more formal approach to education would benefit staff and older people.
Other Irish organisations contributing to the report included Alone, Home Instead Ireland, Mental Health Ireland, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, and Safeguarding Ireland.
The roundtable group also included experts from the United Nations, Australia, and Canada who work in care for the elderly.
Source: Irish Examiner