Members of Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) will need to hire at least 3,000 home care workers this year to meet demand for their services, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

Describing the current recruitment crisis as the “most acute in history”, Joseph Musgrave (pictured), chief executive of HCCI, which represents private providers, said that waiting lists for home care rose by 525% in the last three months of 2021.

“In the autumn of 2021, the Government was quoting waiting lists for home care of some 800 people. As of the end December 2021, the national waiting list was over 5,000. This is an astonishing, and worrying, rate of growth,” he said.

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“We currently project that our members alone need to hire 3,000 additional home care workers in 2022 just to reach the goal of providing 24 million hours of home care. This does not include the additional staff needed by the HSE and other home care colleagues.”

Musgrave went onto say that while the Government has boosted funding for the home care sector, no workforce strategy has been provided.

“In response to the HSE Winter Plan 2021/22, we issued members of this Committee, the HSE and Government, a document with workable solutions to ease the recruitment crisis.  That only the HSE and indeed some members of this committee engaged with HCCI, while the Government did not, is not good enough,” he said.

“Ireland still lacks a national Home Care Workforce Strategy. Most countries have a Professional Carer Strategy and indeed the EU is currently developing its own Care Strategy.”

The Oireachtas committee was also told that a cross-departmental Workforce Advisory Group, set up by Minister for State Mary Butler last year, has not yet met.

HCCI is calling for the Advisory Group to make interim recommendations by May “at the latest”, with final recommendations by July, giving sufficient time to inform Budget 2023.

Alongside this, the Government should commit to a date to introduce the long-delayed statutory scheme for home care, the organisation said.

“The statutory scheme for home care, which would offer a right to all those living in the State to access home care, was first due to come into force last year.  We are now expecting it will not be introduced until 2023.  It is HCCI’s view that had the State been obliged, through a statutory scheme, to focus on home care then a clear recruitment strategy would have been developed alongside it,” Musgrave said.

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