Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has called on the government to act urgently to ensure carers are available to assist people who need home support.
His call comes after new figures revealed ‘shocking’ numbers of people in Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Louth and Meath have been left without much-needed carers.
Figures released to Sinn Féin by the HSE, have exposed that almost 5,000 people across the state are waiting for a carer to be allocated to them despite being approved.
Of these, 554 are living in the above mentioned areas. This reply was in response to a parliamentary question which exposes a growing crisis when it comes to home carers in Ireland.
Deputy Stanley said: “In total 554 people have been approved for a home carer in the Community Health Organisation 8 (CHO 8) area which includes Laois/Offaly, but despite this have not been allocated a carer due to severe shortages.
“Almost 5,000 people are in this unacceptable situation across the State.
“This is unacceptable. Sinn Féin has been warning for many years now of a looming crisis within the homecare system, as too many people who require homecare aren’t getting the hours that they need.
“This crisis has spiralled during the pandemic, yet the government has consistently failed to properly plan and put contingencies in place.
“Behind every statistic are real lives and real people who are being let down by the state.
“People with disabilities and older people should have every right to lead full, independent lives and receive sufficient support from the state to meet their needs.
“In response to the parliamentary question from Sinn Féin, the Government acknowledged that ‘factors, such as the contracts of employment on offer and employment terms and conditions being offered are a factor in the recruitment challenges faced by the sector’.
“I am calling on the government to engage with private, community and voluntary homecare providers to incentivise the progression of the terms and conditions they offer their staff and bring them into line with those employed directly by the HSE.
“I am also calling on the government to reintroduce priority PCR testing for healthcare staff, including homecare workers, as well as relaxing the income and working hours limits for part-time homecare workers in receipt of social welfare payments to quickly introduce additional capacity to the homecare sector.
“This situation is not good enough for people here in Laois/ Offaly and across the State.
“The government must stop burying their heads in the sand on this issue and finally prioritise the elderly and people with disabilities to ensure they get the support they deserve.”