A report into the provision of home care services has identified a number of ways in which they could be improved and enhanced.

The findings have been published today, following a public consultation about the manner in which such services can be regulated.

An overwhelming number of respondents said there should be a statutory right to home care, with all elements of the supports people need factored into this.

The report also identifies the importance of taking individual circumstances into account when developing new policies.

Regulation of providers and a common standards framework are also highlighted as being central to any new structure. 

Over 2,600 people took part in the consultation, which was commissioned by the Department of Health.

The Department sought responses to a consultation paper that set out the reasons for the new policy and the range of issues important to the development of a new system in Ireland.

Finance, integration with other health services, and having set standards were among the issues for consideration.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Older People, Jim Daly, said equal access to home care services was an essential component of the Government's planning. He expressed hope that a new scheme would allow people to live longer and happier lives in their own homes.

Almost 55% of those who took part said home care packages did not work well alongside hospital services.

The Department said further consultations will take place in the coming months, as work to develop an overarching policy in the area continues.

Minister Daly said he wants to create a Fair Deal type scheme for people living in their own homes.

He said it will be two to three years before such a scheme is  up and running, regulated, available and funded. 

He defended the timescale citing the length of time it took to develop Fair Deal which he said took 7 to 8 years from conception to become reality.

Minister Daly said he now wants to engage with bodies interested in homecare.

He said you can't transfer Fair Deal payments for home care because it is a complex scheme, already in statute and for use in nursing homes, adding they do not want to start tinkering around the edges of that.