A Cork TD has raised concerns about the “huge issue with recruitment and retention” as home help hours are currently at 221,261 hours under target in Cork City and County.
Cork North Central TD Thomas Gould called on the Government to bring forward a plan “to increase home helps and attempt to meet targets” as figures obtained under Parliamentary Question (PQ) show that as of August 31, the HSE has missed Health Care Support Assistants (HCSAs) hours by over 80,000 hours in his constituency alone in North Lee.
“In reality, the HSE is missing at least 5,600 home help hours every single week on average in Cork. They are missing over one in 10 of their targeted hours. This is because of huge issues with recruitment and retention,” the Sinn Féin TD said.
He said that HCSAs do “trojan work” and are often the reason a person can leave hospital or stay within their community as they age but said that there are too many people who right now do not have that support.
He said it is “time for the HSE to take real action” on the issue because people are “suffering without this support”.
In response to Deputy Gould’s PQ, Assistant National Director of Community Operations Services for Older People Sandra Broderick said that as of the end of August this year, 14,250,532 home support hours were delivered nationally to 56,350 people.
“Also, as of this date, there were 56 people assessed and waiting for funding for new or additional home support, while 6,035 people were assessed and approved for home support but are awaiting a carer to be assigned.” In relation to home support hours not delivered in 2022 due to staffing shortages, she said approximately 44,000 hours per week nationally are not being delivered.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) toldthat more than 1.8 million home support hours were provided across Cork and Kerry in the first eight months of the year.
The spokesperson said that there have been difficulties in meeting the need and demand for home support as CKCH faces “a very challenging situation in terms of recruiting staff”.
“This is despite our best efforts to recruit staff to these valued and valuable roles,” the spokesperson said.
Speaking recently at a Regional Health Forum meeting at Cork County Hall, Chief Officer of CKCH Michael Fitzgerald said that the HSE is “committed” to the development of improved community-based services.
Mr Fitzgerald said that two specialist recruiters have been appointed to the home support service to fast-track the hiring of additional staff.
These staff recruiters are addressing each local home support office's needs and are focusing their efforts in a localised manner.
In addition, he said that a regional HCSA recruitment campaign was undertaken in early 2022 which has resulted in the panelling of 96 successful candidates across Cork and Kerry.
Mr Fitzgerald said a further supplementary Cork and Kerry HCSA recruitment campaign was undertaken in May and 66 successful candidates were panelled across the region.
An additional supplementary campaign to recruit HCSA staff in Cork and Kerry was launched on September 21. People can apply through HSE.ie/jobs until the closing date on October 11.
As of the end of July 2022, there were 5,289 HCSAs employed across the HSE nationally.