Home help sector will be next to be regulated, says Lynch
Minister of State says it is not possible to provide a timeline for regulation
The programme for government contains a commitment to develop national standards for home support services but as yet nothing has been done. Photograph: Michael Donne/Science Photo Library
Home helps caring for older people will be the next sector to come under formal Government regulation, Minister of State for Older People Kathleen Lynch has said.
Ms Lynch said it wasn’t possible to say when this would happen but promised that home helps would be the “next obvious area” to be regulated.
Responding to details of complaints against home helps reported in yesterday’s Irish Times, she said she was more concerned with the fact the complaints were dealt with clearly and thoroughly than with the proportion of complaints. Where complaints were made, the files showed they had been dealt with adequately, she added.
The programme for government contains a commitment to develop national standards for home support services but as yet nothing has been done.
The Health Information and Quality Authority, which is in charge of similar standards operating in other sectors, said yesterday it hadn’t been contacted about developing standards that would apply to the home help sector.
Ms Lynch said it was always the Government’s priority in terms of regulation to deal with the fallout of the Ryan report into clerical sexual abuse and then to improve regulations applying to children.
New standards of care for people with intellectual disabilities were published last month and the next phase would see the development of a regulatory system for the homecare environment.
She said she was aware that older people at home could be more isolated than those in an institutional setting in terms of making complaints because more people were coming and going from nursing homes.
Putting in place an inspection system for the providers of home help hours and homecare services would require significant extra resources. Ms Lynch pointed out that Hiqa was “put to the pin of its collar” to introduce new disability standards, and this only happened after it got additional staff and funding.
It would be impossible for Hiqa inspectors to go into every home for inspections, she said. Instead, the authority would act as the organiser of the delivery of inspection services in this area. Yesterday’s Irish Times published details of a number of complaints received by the HSE in relation to home help services.