Harris promises home-help scheme within two years

Minister publishes consultation improve services so people can remain in their homes

Minister for Health Simon Harris says setting up a home care scheme by 2019 is realistic. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Minister for Health Simon Harris says setting up a home care scheme by 2019 is realistic. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

A nationwide, statutory scheme to provide care for people in their own homes could be in place within two years, according to Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Mr Harris said setting up a home care scheme by 2019 was an ambitious but realistic timeline, even though legislation would be required.

The Fair Deal, which provides support for nursing home care, took seven years to become a reality, he pointed. “We want to get this right, but we also want to avoid unintended consequences and to learn from what others countries do.

The Minister, along with Minister of State for Older People Jim Daly, on Thursday announced a seven-week consultation on home care services as a first step toward setting up a statutory scheme.

The present system is ad hoc, inconsistent, geographically inequitable and, as a result, of great concern to families, Mr Harris said. “People fear the only way they can get the care they need is to go into a nursing home, unfortunately.”

About one in five of those aged over 65 receive some form of community-based support service annually from the State.

The Fair Deal scheme costs over €900 million a year, though this cost is offset by contributions from residents from property equity, while spending on home care amounts to €350 million.

Groups working in the social care area welcome the consultation but said it must not obscure the need for additional funding for home care.

As of July 2016, there were 2,256 people waiting for home care packages and 2,097 people waiting for home help.

The closing date for submissions in the consolation process is August 31st.