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Ireland’s Health Care – Home Care Legislation to be Announced Soon

Dublin: New guidelines for healthcare assistants and home care support workers are set to be released in Ireland next month. The government is carrying out fast-paced activities based on the recommendations submitted by the Strategy Work Force Advisory Group, which was appointed by the government in September 2022.

The country still has a shortage of carers and health care assistants. There are currently 563 homes in Ireland. Only 31,888 beds are available in nursing homes, which include 420 private nursing homes, 111 government-owned nursing homes, and 32 nursing homes owned by charity groups.

7,326 need home support in case of disabilities. The government anticipates a 110% increase in employment in these two categories alone over the next ten years.

Apart from these, there are 195,263 home carers from the families themselves. Many of their relatives who work without remuneration will have to be appointed direct carers by the government in the coming years. This is due to the fact that the majority of current home carers are over the age of 60.

It is for these reasons that the government is rushing to formulate a policy for care workers.

Although the policy change started on a partial scale from 2021, the Strategic Committee has formulated plans to transform the law in a formal manner by September 2022. These will be implemented subject to the approval of Parliament. Preparations for this are currently underway.

With no policy of recruitment, about 4000 people came.

Many agencies made incomplete promises to bring healthcare assistants and home carers to Ireland from non-EU countries, including India, prior to the formulation of the full policy.
Only 55 work permits were issued to non-EU/EEA nationals in 2021, but over 2,000 HCAs received work permits in 2022. The vast majority of them are from India.

Important instructions.
It is concerning that the Strategic Committee’s recommendations are not favourable to foreign healthcare professionals. While it is stated that home care assistants may receive the same benefits as healthcare assistants, the policy document states that important issues affecting migrant workers, such as family reunification, have not even been addressed by the committee.

As previously stated, the committee has only recommended a minimum wage of €27,000 per year and a stable 39-hour work week, both of which are not available to newly arrived healthcare assistants and care home supporters in Ireland.

A section of workers is facing severe exploitation due to the secret deals with some agencies and some employers who have taken hundreds of thousands of rupees in agency fees and brought the candidates to Ireland. Workers in the care sector face severe discrimination, including overtime work, reduced breaks, holiday denial, and forced shifts.

Despite the fact that all of these have been brought to the committee’s attention, none of them will help relieve the current suffering. Moreover, the policy document is silent in some areas, including family reunification.

Further study and allied courses.
The majority of those hired as health care assistants have completed their nursing studies and have many years of work experience, including abroad. According to reports, some nursing home owners have suggested that they can only continue working after completing the OOI courses in three days over the course of a year.

Post-employment training and related courses should be offered for free or at a low cost; however, they instill unnecessary fear.

Meanwhile, the Strategic Committee has recommended the development of a competency framework for care workers. It will be determined by job qualifications, prior experience, and grades. The committee’s report indicates that only those who need it will have to take more courses. In particular jobs (eg, dementia care), they will have to continue but have to do supplementary courses.

Only contract holders will be permitted to conduct recruitment.

The committee recommended that the recruitment of non-EU/EEA employees be limited to contract holders only because the government has come to notice the extortion by agents using work permits.

When the recommendations of the strategy committee report are formulated one by one by the government and finally implemented, the issues that have been ignored by the government are urgently brought to the attention of the government, and efforts to find solutions immediately or in addition to the announcement have been started under the auspices of the group for health care workers and home care workers who have come to Ireland. Below is the link to join the group. https://chat.whatsapp.com/LhTLfr0cD7A3SLxjVUkVPL

The Strategy Committee Report is available at the link below: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/492bc-report-of-the-strategic-workforce-advisory-group-on-home-carers-and-nursing-home-health-care-assistants/

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