The home care market in Ireland is estimated to be worth just over €700m a year between HSE-funded carers and the private market. As the population ages it is a market that is likely to experience considerable growth in the near future.
Michael Harty, founder of HomeCare Direct, said his company has launched a new online platform that promises lower costs and better service for those requiring home care. Mr Harty said that the homecare sector is facing a serious of issues and problems, including the shortage of carers due to increased demand as well as the rising costs of homecare for families and the state. There are also worries about the quality of service as carers do not have great employment conditions with some homecare agencies.
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HomeCare Direct, a website and app, was established to try and address some of those issues. It empowers carers and families to work together and provides them with a suite of tools to do that. It addresses the shortage of carers issue by making homecare more attractive - carers are in control on the app, they can set their own wages and availability which enables them to get the rewards that their difficult and important work deserves.
The new app also addresses the rising cost of care for families by removing the agency out of the equation - where appropriate. Mr Harty said that agencies generally charge €25 an hour for a carer, whereas when carers set their own wages they usually charge €18-19 an hour. This represents significant savings for families, he added. But perhaps most importantly, Mr Harty said the new HomeCare Direct platform is a real driver of quality because of the fact that it incentivises carers who are essentially working for themselves.
HomeCare Direct takes a commission of 13%, and Mr Harty said that all carers on the site are fully tax compliant. The company handles all the invoicing and administration for them, which is important because there is significant tax relief - up to 40% - available for families.
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