Introduction of a Statutory Home Support scheme likely to increase demand for Home Support 

A statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home support services is a key Sláintecare reform proposal. An Economic and Social Research Institute report entitled “Demand for the Statutory Home Support Scheme” is the first of three research projects funded by the Department of Health to inform the development of a home support scheme. The report estimates the potential demand for home support if a statutory scheme were to be introduced under various policy scenarios including: 

  • Increasing home support to all older people waiting for a support package or additional hours; 
  • Reducing by half the number of people who exit the home support scheme and enter long-term residential care; 
  • Increased demand for professional support from people who require help with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). 

Main Findings 

The main findings of the “Demand for the Statutory Home Support Scheme” report are outlined below: 

  • An estimated 24.7 million home support hours were provided in 2019 to over 65,000 people aged 65 years and older. A quarter of all hours were privately purchased (Scenario 1, Baseline); 
  • ​​​​​​​Compared to the level of home support provided in 2019, increasing home support to all older people waiting for a support package or additional hours would require an extra 3.5 million hours (Scenario 2); 
  • Halving the number of home support recipients who enter long-term residential care by providing them with adequate intensive home support packages would require an extra 4.2 million hours (Scenario 3); 
  • Up to 8 million additional hours of home support may be required to meet the increased demand from people with Activities of Daily Living (ADL) difficulties who may have previously relied on unpaid and family care;  
  • A proportionate increase in the carer workforce would be required to meet increased demand. 

Policy Recommendations 

A well-resourced home support scheme would provide more people with the choice to receive care more appropriately in their homes and communities. The success of any statutory home support scheme will be determined by its ability to meet the demand for services. 

The Minister of State for Mental Health & Older People, Mary Butler TD, welcomed the report, stating: 

“I welcome the publication of this report, which is the first output from a programme of research that the ESRI is undertaking to support the Department of Health to progress the development of a new statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home support. 

As anticipated, the report underlines the significant increase in the demand for home support in the coming years, largely due to our ageing population, and illustrates the importance of providing equitable and transparent access to high-quality home care services to support people to stay well in their homes and communities for as long as possible” 

One of the report authors, Brendan Walsh stated: 

“It is quite clear that, where possible, older people with personal or domestic care needs wish to remain at home for as long as possible. This is borne out in our study, and the introduction of a statutory scheme will greatly increase the demand for home support in Ireland. It is imperative therefore that adequate resources and planning ensure that people can receive the care they need, tailored to their specific circumstances, in an affordable and timely manner."