A Summary of the Overarching Messages from the Draft Regulations for Providers of Home Support Services: An Overview of the Findings of the Department of Health’s Public Consultation
The Institute of Public Health, on behalf of the Department of Health, have released “Draft Regulations for Providers of Home Support Services: An Overview of the Findings of the Department of Health’s Public Consultation”. The report sets out an analysis of the responses to the Department of Health on a public consultation on new Draft Regulations for Providers of Home Support Services.
The consultation was held between 16th June 2022 and 4th August 2022 to inform the draft regulations and to contribute to regulatory impact assessment. The purpose of the report is to reflect and summarise the range of views expressed by respondents on the scope, content and potential impact of the draft regulations.
Overarching Messages from the Consultation Responses
The following are the overarching messages from the consultation responses:
- It was recognised that home support regulations are key to providing better quality of service and guidance for all involved in home support services. This view was consistent across all sectors including service users, providers and state bodies.
- It was felt that by specifying minimum standards, the regulations would create a level playing field for providers that would ensure higher and more consistent standards of delivery.
- A large majority felt that the regulations would provide greater protection to service users which was particularly important if they were vulnerable due to ill health or reduced cognitive ability.
- Clarity was sought by all sectors on how the regulations relate to the overall architecture of publicly funded home support provision. This includes primary legislation, HIQA standards and the current and future models of home support provision including the new statutory scheme and funding mechanisms. This was considered important both for understanding how the regulations fit into the home support scheme, and in relation to specific provisions such as contracts with service users and needs assessments.
- Clarity was sought on HIQA’s role as the regulator of home support providers and the HSE’s role as Commissioner of Services and funder under these regulations.
- There was a concern that the regulations reflected a form of home support provision that had been mapped from the model of services for older people and did not adequately reflect the need for flexibility and active service-user direction.
- There was widespread support across all sectors for having minimum qualifications for home support workers to improve service standards. On the other hand, there was also strong concern that this could worsen existing staffing and recruitment shortages by driving competent workers out of the workplace and deterring potential recruits who felt unable to achieve the required formal qualification levels.
- Many submissions hoped that mandatory qualifications would lead to clearer career pathways and better pay and conditions in the home support sector. Improved conditions for home support workers were seen as vital to creating a more sustainable workforce and high quality service for home support service users.
- Respondents indicated that the implementation of the regulations could be onerous for providers and home support workers in terms of increased record keeping and documentation, and that this could impact negatively on the service user.
- There were concerns that some types of home support service are excluded from the regulations, particularly services for children, services by healthcare professionals and services provided by individuals directly employed by service users.
- Stronger governance structures were sought such as minimum qualifications for managers and more active and formal service user representation and feedback to ensure greater oversight and improved service.
View the Full Report
The full report may be accessed via this link.