Family members at home due to the Covid-19 crisis will be asked to mind their relatives so their carers can be deployed to nursing and residential care homes to plug staffing gaps.
Home and Community Care Ireland, the national body for home care providers, has agreed to the HSE’’s request to accommodate the voluntary deployment of the carers.
Carers will be temporarily deployed from looking after low dependency clients in their homes if they can be cared for by family members who are at home because of the pandemic.
The organisation’s chief executive, Joseph Musgrave, who is recovering from being infected with the coronavirus, said hundreds of carers could be involved in the redeployment.
Mr Musgrave expects to be in a position next week to start arranging training for the carers moving to nursing homes and residential care facilities.
He also understands from their conversations with the HSE that once the Covid-19 crisis abates and people go back to work home care will be reinstated for the clients affected.
The HSE will work with home care clients to determine which clients are willing to have their home care temporarily suspended.
“No one is going to be compelled to do this. And I don't think that would be the right thing to do.
“However, I believe many carers will understand the extraordinary circumstances we are in and want to step up and we will work on how we can facilitate that.”
Mr Musgrave said part of the agreement reached includes a change in policy by the health authority.
Carers will now receive full payment for any hours they lost last month because of a client self-isolating because of Covid-19.
Mr Musgrave said the package will be reviewed again later this month by the HSE and HCCI to continue this much-needed support for the workforce.
He pointed out that currently, 3,202 clients are self-isolating, a 23% increase on last week. All of the 11 clients who had tested positive for Covid-19 had been taken to hospital.
There are 210 clients self-isolating because they might have the virus or are awaiting a test - a 42% increase on last week.
There are 609 carers who are self-isolating, a 12% increase on last week and 416 are self-isolating because they may have the virus or are awaiting a test – a 6% increase.