HSE urged to address chronic shortage of home support staff across Cork county

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A SENIOR HSE official has said the body is “acutely Aware” of the chronic shortfall in the number of home support staff across the county and is working to address the issue through a targeted recruitment drive.

he issue was addressed by Macroom-based Cllr Eileen Lynch (FG) in a motion before the Regional Health Forum, in which she sought an update on the waiting list for those who have been approved for home help but have yet to receive it.

“I raised this matter as I am concerned about the number of people who have been approved for home help, but are not being provided with same”, said Cllr Lynch.

“Home help and community-based care is crucial in ensuring that those who can stay at home rather than in nursing homes are facilitated. If there are people in the community who can continue to live at home with the help of home care services then it is vital that these are made available,” she added.

Replying to the motion HSE chief officer Michael Fitzgerald revealed the waiting list currently stands at 638, of which 276 are existing users needing additional supports with the remaining 362 being new applicants.

He said that over the past year the Cork home support department had experienced a high number of retirements and leavers, “with the unintended consequence” of this resulting in extended waiting list as a result of staff shortages.

“Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is acutely aware that there are current capacity issues across both direct and indirect provision of home support and continues to advertise for healthcare support assistants in order to recruit as many suitable candidates as possible,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

He said that in order to address the shortfall the HSE had engaged two specialist recruiters to fast-track the hiring of additional staff and that a recent regional recruitment drive had resulting in the addition of 96 new staff members.

Mr Fitzgerald said HSE would continue the process of advertising for new staff to fill the vacant positions.

Cllr Lynch said that while it had been made clear funding was not an obstacle to staff recruitment, that would come as little consolation to those awaiting home help supports.

“This gap in available home care is proving to very problematic for communities and families alike,” said Cllr Lynch.

“Therefore, it is vitally important that these staff shortages be address as a matter of priority,” she added.

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