The Minister for Older People, Mary Butler, has said there are more than 5,000 people in Ireland waiting on home care hours but there is a shortage of carers to fulfil their needs.

Minister Butler said it is "particularly difficult in rural areas and is particularly difficult at the weekends".

She was speaking at the Age Friendly Older Peoples Conference, which is taking place in Trim, Co Meath. It is the first time in three years the conference has taken place.

"Today as we speak, there's approximately 5,200 people waiting for home care packages. The packages are funded but we just don't have the staff to deliver the home care," she said.

Minister Butler told the conference that she has now set up a planning group, which is looking at attracting more workers into home care.

Many people left the sector during the Covid pandemic, she said.

For those gathered at the conference, the message was clear. They are anxious to see the shortfall in carers addressed, to allow older people stay in their homes.

"It's so vital to have people to provide help in our own homes because we may have to go into a nursing home which is neither cost effective nor is it helpful for any older people - it's not what we want," said Ita Healy from Co Meath.

"Originally we were building nursing homes like they were going out of fashion, like hotels," said Kevin Molloy from Wexford.

"It was like all older people were going to be shoved into nursing homes, that's not what people want and that's not what communities what anymore," he added.

"We're all getting older but we're all going to need help," said Marie Flanagan from Swinford in Co Mayo.