A group representing thousands of community home care providers has called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to clarify when exactly its members will received their €1,000 Pandemic Special Recognition Payment.
The National Community Care Network (NNCN), which represents 20 community care home providers and 3,000 trained carers nationwide, says that while HSE carers have been given their payments, those sub-contracted by the HSE have not.
In January, the health minister announced the details of the tax-free payments, which were to be provided to "relevant staff in private sector nursing homes and hospices that were affected by Covid-19".
Under the original proposals, only carers directly employed by the health service were eligible. However, NNCN said the minister later committed to expanding this to all community-based workers.
NNCN chief executive Fiacre Hensey says his organisation has not received any update from the Department of Health on the matter.
"This is really an issue of recognising the tireless and invaluable work thousands of hardworking carers do for their communities day in and day out, night in and night out," he said.
"Despite doing the same work as HSE employees, with the same risks, there has been little or no political recognition for carers who do not work for the HSE, even though the care they are providing is funded by the HSE through our members."
Mr Hensey said clarification of the details of the payment was important, particularly at a time in which the country is struggling to recruit community carers.
"The vulnerable members of the community who are receiving care certainly didn’t mind whether their carer worked for the HSE or not, only that they were looked after with compassion, kindness, and professionalism."
Mr Hensey added that during the pandemic, communities had "pulled together and did the best they could in desperate circumstances".
"We shouldn’t now cause divisions in the healthcare sector about this payment.’’
Thehas contacted the Department of Health for comment.