‘Carers for elderly should have minimum training’

Carers who provide home help to elderly people should be required to have a minimum level of training.

An analysis of the home-care sector, in terms of the future provision of services for older people, has found that the sector needs to develop additional qualifications and training for workers.

Citing investments that have increased the level of training for those who work in creches and childcare, the report suggests a similar model for the home-care and long-term care sector.

The Institute of Public Health in Ireland report analysed the responses to the Department of Health consultation into the future of home-care policy in Ireland, which will advise government on the financing and regulation of home care.

More than 2,600 members of the public, and groups including Age Action, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Beaumont Hospital, Family Carers Ireland, Hiqa, the INMO, and Irish Rural Link submitted proposals.

The report suggests that people who care for the elderly need to be better supported, in terms of salaries, terms and conditions, and opportunities.

If training and skills were set to recognised national standards, it would strengthen caring as a valued career. One advocacy body stated that the pool of carers was declining and that carers have higher levels of stress than the rest of the population.

One care-home provider said the workforce needed to increase by 48% just to meet demographic growth over the next 10 years.

The Department of Health is working towards placing home care on a statutory basis. This plan will include the licensing/registration of providers; developing agreed standards as the basis for service contracts; and a comprehensive monitoring and complaints system.

Respondents also called for closer integration between home-care and housing policy, by strengthening the supply and diversity of supported accommodation for older people and people with disabilities.

Minister of state for older people Jim Daly is developing a new supported model of housing for the elderly.

“We must give older people a choice that it isn’t a case of home or the nursing home. We must create an in-between,” Mr Daly told the Irish Examiner.

“We are going to have to look at a step-down model of care with the Department of Housing and the Department of Health, where you would have housing for the elderly with supports on-site, such as day centres, meal-on-wheels, those kind of things.”

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