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Older people in Ireland could have no other choice but to consider moving out of their own homes, because they cannot access the care and support services they need to continue living independently, Sage Advocacy has warned.

The organisation, which provides support and advocacy services to older people, vulnerable adults and healthcare patients, said a national crisis is unfolding which could result in older people having to leave their homes against their will because of a shortage of available carers.

Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said: “We know from our advocacy work that many older people are now desperate to access care and support to continue living in their own homes and we also know that there are many older people across the country who are having to provide a level of care to a loved one, husband, wife or relative that is simply unsustainable.

“Some people need minimal day to day support, but others require more considerable help to remain living independently in their own homes. This help and support can come from different sources for example, the HSE Home Support Service, independent carers or private companies who can provide a range of services.

“We are hearing that there is a recruitment crisis and a shortage of staff to provide these services and that shortage is fast developing into a national crisis which has left some older people not only in despair but in a very vulnerable position.

“We urgently need this problem to be addressed by Government. Measures should be considered in the upcoming budget to ensure that the workers are attracted to these essential roles.

"The current support system is strongly biased towards the statutory Nursing Home Support Scheme, which is means tested and regulated, while the non-statutory system of home care is not means tested and not regulated. We need a new framework and new infrastructure put in place to ensure care and support services are available to people in their home, where and whenever they need it most.”

Sage Advocacy said many older people are now having to rely on family and friends to provide essential day to day care and support.

Ms Lennon said: “We know of families who are struggling to continue to provide the level of care and support that is needed.

“Many families are now at breaking point, and this is a problem, which each week is getting worse, because there is a growing demand for home support services and a lack of healthcare workers to provide those services.

“If the people who need additional support cannot access it, then they could be put in a position where they no longer have a choice and could be forced to consider other alternatives such as long-term residential care options including nursing homes – against their will”.

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