There are now over 6,000 people on waiting lists which is a major factor contributing to hospital discharge delays.

The HCCI has stated that this issue could be wiped out “instantly” if home care workers permitted to taking on more hours.

The organisation that represents private home care providers is calling on Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys to permit a temporary suspension of social welfare earning thresholds to allow home carers work just three more hours per week without losing social welfare benefits.

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Joseph Musgrave, HCCI CEO, explained that by allowing 6,000 carers to take on three additional hours per week, one million more home care hours could be delivered this year.

He said: “In essence that would provide care for all those people on the waiting list for home care – older and vulnerable people who need support to stay living in the safety and comfort of their own homes and communities. These are people who have been assigned funding for home care but are waiting on a carer to provide home care support.

“With a simple stroke of the Minister’s pen the waiting list would be wiped out! In addition, if the Government were to action this there would be no recruitment crisis in home care and furthermore the Government would be able to meet its home care targets this year.”

“It is mind boggling that people are languishing on hospital trolleys awaiting a bed while people who are well enough to be discharged and return home await home care support. If home care workers could work three more hours each week without risk of losing their medical card or social welfare payments this serious problem would be resolved.”

“We know from speaking to our members that home care workers are willing to take on additional hours. So, the capacity and willingness are there – its up to the Minister now to make it happen and give older and more vulnerable people the support they need to stay living in their own homes.”

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