HEALTH Minister Robin Swann has announced a £5m funding package for Domiciliary Care as well as confirming the completion of a Rapid Learning Review which will help shape plans moving forward.
The homecare sector delivers care to around 270,000 people a week in Northern Ireland and employs 18,000 people across both the statutory and independent sector. The additional funding will help address additional costs on independent providers of domiciliary care, or ‘homecare’ providers.
Speaking today the Minister said: “I am hugely grateful to all who work in this sector for their dedication. Frontline workers have shown bravery, skill and commitment in keeping this service running in the face of the huge challenge presented by Covid-19.
“We have also seen innovation, with dedicated Covid-19 homecare teams deployed in some areas. Those in receipt of homecare are often amongst the most vulnerable in our society and we need to recognise that homecare is an essential service.
“Those receiving this care hugely value the ability to remain in their own homes, whilst receiving care and support.”
Addressing the issue of additional costs is a key part of ensuring services across the sector are up and running again. The new funding can be used to address costs such as the purchase of PPE, enhanced sick pay and additional staffing costs, such as further recruitment and training.
The Minister continued: “I am determined to drive forward reform across adult social care, including homecare. This will be ever more important as the elderly population continues to grow and as enhancements in technology and new models of care mean more and more people can be supported in their own homes.
“That is why I have asked officials to look at ways to enhance terms and conditions across adult social care and why I am looking to improve training opportunities and recognition for those who choose to care.
“As demand begins to outstrip supply, we need more workers entering this sector. I appeal to anyone considering starting a career in caring to get in touch. We want to hear from you.”
In conclusion the Minister said: “As we continue our pandemic response, it is important that we work in partnership with others to learn from our experience to date and improve our responses going forward.
“My Department has undertaken a Rapid Learning Review looking at the experience of domiciliary care during the pandemic. The review engaged with a wide range of stakeholders including service users, carers, providers and commissioners.
“I am very grateful to all the partners who worked with us on this review and I am committed to the ongoing support of this important community service.”