I’ve just finished watching the PrimeTime program on home care for the elderly. In summary, a number of not-for-profit and for-profit home care providers are using untrained staff, breaching various acknowledged standards, managing care staff very poorly, and generally providing crummy care to some of the most vulnerable people in society.
A nice man, Noel Mulvihill, assistant national director for older care indicates that he will write to his staff to instruct them to monitor the quality of the care they are paying many tens of millions a year for. One wonders what, exactly, Mr Mulvihill and his colleagues have been doing for the last few years. In fairness to them, they have been working hard on standards for residential home care, but I do feel that HSE ought to have considered home care quality too. If you wonder why they have concentrated on nursing home care, try looking up Lea’s Cross on Google.
Even more worrying, Deputy Aine Brady, Minister for Older People, was interviewed. She did not seem very perturbed, at the findings of the report, and expressed doubt about the need for more regulation in the sector. She is one of our hereditary TDs, the daughter of one TD, sister of two others, and married to a fourth.
Kate Hartigan, another assistant national director in HSE, was interviewed after the program on Pat Kenny’s show. She is talking about future regulation, building on their work on defining care packages. They have taken some steps to deal with the companies covered by the program, but it would seem little more has been done. Sara Burke did a nice hatchet job on the staggeringly incoherent policy which has lead us to this mess. The goal of the policy was to drive down the costs, and this has worked. The quality has not been assessed yet. There is still a large amount of variation between counties in service provision.
Can we change this? It will cost money to do it.