Home support providers are having to categorise their clients according to need.
Chief executive of Home and Community Care Ireland, Joseph Musgrave, said around a third of all HSE home support packages are provided by HCCI members.
“The HSE has started to ask our members to classify clients into one of four categories,” said Mr Musgrave.
Top priority will be given to clients with “significant care needs or an inability to remain at home safely” without HSE support.
However, services may be withdrawn from clients who can seek extra support from families and/or friends.
The HSE is warning that “certain measures” will need to be taken in the community over the coming weeks to further delay the spread of coronavirus. This may result in the withdrawal of all non-essential home care with priority given to clients who have significant care needs or an inability to remain at home safely without HSE support.
The HSE is urging those who may have their home care withdrawn to seek extra support from their families, friends and local community services.
Mr Musgrave said some providers have sent back their priority list to the HSE but feel that public health nurses should be making these classifications: “HCCI members do accept that some of their clients might have to have their care suspended to free up hours to care for people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”
“We are willing to play our part in the national emergency but it has to be managed in a coherent, careful way. We have to make sure our clients do not get scared,” he said.
Mr Musgrave said that more than 900 of their clients are choosing to self-isolate, including from their home carers.
HCCI wants providers to continue to be paid for up to six weeks when a client goes into self-isolation. Currently, the payment is stopped after two days. However, the HSE believes the hours can be reallocated to somebody else needing the service.
HCCI’s 80-plus members employ 12,000 carers and care for more than 20,000 clients.