Coronavirus: Some HSE home care may be withdrawn because of pandemic

With increasing number of carers and older people going into self-isolation, industry is seeking emergency measures for sector

Some HSE clients  have already been told non-essential home care may be withdrawn because of the pandemic, with priority given to clients who have “significant care needs” or cannot remain at home safely without HSE support. File image: iStock

Some HSE clients have already been told non-essential home care may be withdrawn because of the pandemic, with priority given to clients who have “significant care needs” or cannot remain at home safely without HSE support. File image: iStock

 

Home care providers have warned of a “serious threat” to the viability of the sector arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

With increasing number of carers, and of older people receiving care, going into self-isolation, the industry is seeking emergency measures to stabilise the sector.

Providers should continue to be paid for up to six weeks when a client goes into self-isolation, according to Home and Community Care Ireland. At present, the payment is stopped after two days.

Some HSE clients, in letters seen by The Irish Times, have already been told non-essential home care may be withdrawn because of the pandemic, with priority given to clients who have “significant care needs” or cannot remain at home safely without HSE support.

HCCI has also called for changes to make it easier for low-earning employees to hold on to their medical card or working family payment while working more during the emergency.

The group, which represents providers of home care to 20,000 people, also wants social welfare rules suspended to “free up” more working hours among current staff.

HCCI has warned that up to 2,000 older people at home are so vulnerable they will need to be admitted to hospital if they do not receive their regular home care.

It says the proposals aim to increase capacity and to stabilise the home care sector. “We are concerned, if we do not move quickly, that there will be a serious threat to the viability of our industry which remains a necessary part of the fabric of our nation’s efforts to combat Covid-19.”

At present, 40 older people receiving home care are self-isolating on the advice of a doctor, while another 611 are self-isolating voluntarily, according to HCCI.

In addition, 37 carers have been told by a doctor to self-isolate, while another 68 are self-isolating voluntarily.

The HSE pays for limited home care for about 17,000 people, while another 3,000 fund it themselves.

HCCI says “we are not currently proposing that home care providers treat Covid-19 patients in their own homes” but are available to discuss this “should the Government feel it is a national priority”.