Changes are being made to employment permits for people living outside the EU, to allow more workers to come here.
It is to address staff shortages in the hospitality, construction, health and road haulage sectors.
All chef grades are now eligible for a permit while all nurses can quality for a Critical Skills permit. However, the change does not extend to healthcare assistants who will still be ineligible for the permit.
As a result, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) and Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) accused the Government of "turning their back" on the care needs of older people in the community.
NHI estimates that there are more than 800 vacant healthcare assistant jobs across the private and voluntary nursing home sector, while HCCI expects the sector will need to recruit and retain around 18,000 carers to keep pace with projected demand over the next 10 years.
Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO saids: “This Government speaks of moving care provision into the community but lamentably the actions simply do not follow.
"Only last month, Minister for Health Simon Harris informed our annual conference he recognised services can’t be provided by nursing homes because of staffing issues that were also presenting for the HSE. He stated the work permits issue requires addressing and he was engaged with Minister Humphreys “to look at how we can have a better work permit system for people to work in the nursing home sector”. Have his representations been ignored?
“So while our Government publishes reports projecting thousands of additional healthcare assistants to be required in the coming years, it flagrantly ignores the reality that these staff are needed to deliver critical healthcare in our communities immediately.”
Joseph Musgrave, HCCI CEO, added: "As we are now deep in the Winter period, it’s a bit galling to see the HSE 2020 National Service Plan trumpeted to great fanfare but the tools to deliver it once again being denied to providers."
The changes will come into effect on January 1, 2020.