The Department of Health says a new statutory scheme for home care services will introduce clear rules in relation to what services people are eligible for and how decisions are made on allocating services.

It follows calls by the charity Family Carers Ireland, which represents people who care for loved ones, for better respite services for carers.

Family Carers Ireland says respite, whether it be through residential care or home care services, is crucial for carers.

The group has launched its latest review of the Government's National Carers' Strategy, the Family Carers' Scorecard.

Family Carers Ireland says respite care has become almost non-existent due to funding cuts, staff shortages and bed closures.

The charity says family should be considered as partners in care planning when people are discharged from hospital.

It said eligibility for the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme has been tightened to the point where those in genuine need are not eligible

The scorecard found Government had expressed a willingness to tackle financing home and community care.

It also found what it called an improving level of engagement from Government departments with family carers.

Tonight, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said it was currently engaged in a detailed process to develop plans for a new statutory scheme and system of regulation for home care services, which would introduce clear rules on what services people are eligible for and how decisions are made on allocating services.

A public consultation currently underway on home care services is open for submissions until the 2 October.

The findings will be used in the development of the new home care scheme.

The spokesperson said a significant amount of additional preparation needed to be carried out before final decisions are taken on the form of home care scheme and system of regulation.

The spokesperson said every effort will be made to progress this matter as quickly as possible.

The Health Service Executive said it supported carers both in-home and through residential respite services, and that there was an ongoing and increasing demand to provide regular respite.

The HSE said it recognised the need for further resources and additional services in this important area.