COVID-19 continues to impact our community, where my parents, like all, are under strict orders, to stay at home. The internet has been brilliant as my siblings are scattered all over, and it’s been great fun watching my dad master Zoom! But then, he plays bridge online, so I shouldn’t be surprised as they stay safe and stay at home!
Because of this stay-at-home concept I’m drawn to the reflection, ‘never waste a crisis’, as Budget 2020 included an extra one million hours of HSE home care. The additional hours will address 2019 waiting lists, however, because we are living longer; successfull ageing, without additional investment, waiting lists will grow again in 2020. This investment should not be framed as a burden but as a success! Why do so many frame this wonderful success as a burden using terms like bed- blockers?
Thankfully, Budget 2020 has a commitment to pilot statutory home care, so that home care is a statutory right, in the same way as long-term residential care. According to the Department of Health’s Sláintecare Action Plan, Statutory Home Care will be implemented in 2021. Details of a pilot Statutory Home Care Scheme were to be announced in January 2020. They weren’t, hence, never waste a crisis, as our communities need it.
Along with investment, any Statutory Home Care Scheme must have in-built flexibility to meet the changing needs of end users. Statutory home care can link assessments to differential budgets, which a person then uses to avail of services from a licenced, regulated service provider. Service users choose the service provider and types of service, in consultation with a healthcare professional and consideration of clinical needs and personal circumstances.
Such flexibility means people can choose from a basket of care services, including home-based respite, or services to enhance cognition or improve mental health as well as conventional services that assist with personal care. This is a huge opportunity for Ireland to develop a new model of sustainable home care, that gives autonomy to the service user, improves governance and standards of care, so delivering better home care choices for all.
Liam Toland is owner of Home Instead Senior Care, Limerick and Clare