No Place Like Home

Thursday 24 May 2012 19.01
No Place Like Home

Adrian Lydon blogs ahead of tonight's programme:

Home Care is a vital service allowing thousands of older people to live independently at home. Every day tens of thousands of paid carers go into the homes of 65,000 older people to take care of them.

However, it’s unregulated and with no proper standards in place there is growing concern that older people are being put at risk. This concern is supported by internal HSE reports obtained by Prime Time into two not-for-profit home care companies. It was on foot of the Prime Time programme that the HSE announced that it would carry out a review into the care being provided to the 65,000 older people. The HSE has confirmed that review is now 89% complete.

The findings from the internal HSE reports obtained by Prime Time are disturbing.

In Clontarf Home Care, the HSE investigation found staff without Garda clearance, references or training. It found one staff member with no Garda clearance or references had received a verbal warning for gross misconduct.

It found 14 complaints, which is high given that many older people in receipt of home care don’t complain in fear that the service will be cut. In one complaint, an older person was left to sleep in a chair overnight on six occasions because a carer failed to turn up.

Similar problems were uncovered at Dublin North Inner City Home Care and Home Help Services Limited. Here 200 staff had not been Garda vetted and the company has confirmed to Prime Time that when staff were put through the vetting process, 18 had a previous conviction.

The findings once again point to the need for statutory regulation, robust standards and an independent inspectorate, possibly the Health Information and Quality Authority, who inspect both public and private nursing homes. Even the HSE in tonight’s report say that regulation is required. So what’s needed? According to the former Commissioner at the Law Reform Commission, Patricia Rickard Clarke it’s very simple – political will. Tonight the Minister of State for disability, older people, equality and mental health, Kathleen Lynch joins us in studio.

Adrian Lydon

Prime Time, RTÉ 1, 21:35