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URGENT NEW STRATEGY NEEDED TO ENSURE PEOPLE CAN ACCESS SUPPORT AND CARE SERVICES June 17, 2022

Sage Advocacy has welcomed the Government’s move to launch a public consultation on draft regulations for providers of Home Support Services.

But the national organisation, which provides advocacy and support services to older people, adults who may be vulnerable and healthcare patients, said there also needs to be an urgent strategy to address the growing numbers of people who cannot access the care and support services they need to continue living independently.

The public consultation document (see here: gov.ie - Public Consultation on Draft Regulations for Providers of Home Support Services (www.gov.ie)) sets out the draft regulations that providers of home support services will be required to meet to obtain a license to operate.

Following the public consultation - which closes on 28 July 2022 - information gathered will be analysed by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) who will produce a report for the Department of Health. The department has said it will then publish the consultation report later this year.

Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said in the meantime there must also be an urgent plan put in place to support people with long term care needs.

“Sage Advocacy knows from its advocacy work nationwide that there are many, many older people who are desperately trying to access support and care to live independently in their own homes and their own communities.

“There are also older people who are currently in hospitals and nursing homes who want to return to their homes but have been unable to do so because of a lack of available care. They have no choice but to remain there.

“We cannot wait for the publication of a consultation document months down the line – we need urgent action on this issue. We’re aware that there is a recruitment crisis and that there is a shortage of staff to provide services but that doesn’t help people at this moment in time who are desperate to access care services.

“We are in a vicious cycle where there are people waiting but there is no hope in sight for some,” Ms Lennon said.

Sage Advocacy believes that the current long term support and care system must be re-configured to enable older people to be supported and cared for, where necessary, in the place of their choice.

Ms Lennon said: “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 put in place immediately to ensure care and support services are available to people where and whenever they need it and we also the delivery of the Commission on Care, which the Government pledged to establish in 2020.

“The Commission could play a vital role in ensuring a planned, joined up continuum of care which respects the wishes and needs of those in receipt of care”.

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