Measures could see elderly end up in hospital, says carers group

Home and Community Care Ireland says up to half of their carers may be unavailable

Thousands of frail older people could end up needing hospital care because of issues around the provision of home care during the Covid-19 outbreak, it has been claimed.

Home and Community Care Ireland, whose members provide care for 20,000 older people, says up to half the carers they employ will be affected by the Government's decision to close all schools and crèches and may need to stay home themselves to mind children.

It estimates up to 2,000 of these older people being looked after in their homes are so vulnerable that they will require hospital admission if their carer is unable to provide care.

“Dozens” of clients are choosing to self-isolate out of fear of contracting the virus, without reference to public health advice, it says. The HSE is currently not paying providers if this happens and staff are going unpaid, according to HCCI.


In a number of cases, it says, clients have been told to self-isolate and the carer has been refused entry as a result.

Where a client has a mild respiratory condition such as a cold, there is no guidance from the HSE for home-care providers on managing this, nor has protective equipment or training been provided, HCCI says.

The group says it is becoming “desperate” after failing to obtain any clinical guidance for home care from the HSE over the past two weeks.

"The Government's current response is failing home care and imperilling the safe delivery of care in our communities," it says in a letter sent to Minister for Health Simon Harris this week.

“HCCI has received numerous reports of vulnerable people voluntarily refusing home care hours and self-isolating despite having no symptoms, so fearful are they of contracting Covid-19.”

If providers are asked to provide care to Covid-19 patients, training will be needed, and “some sort of special Covid-19 payment may also be required as this level of care is far above what most home care companies typically provide. Staff may also be reluctant to do this work”.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.