Thousands of care workers face poor wages and working conditions, earning below minimum wage, while a recruitment crisis is leaving more than 6,000 people on waiting lists, a new report reveals.
The report from an advisory group to the Department of Health paints a stark picture of the treatment of caregivers who are crucial to supporting people in their homes.
It shows that many employees of private companies and non-profit organizations who have outsourced work from HSE suffer from job insecurity and have to pay for their own travel expenses when moving from client to client and for the time spent travelling , will not be remunerated .
“Because the HSE pays providers for the hours of home support provided, home helpers providing HSE-funded care are not compensated for hours of care that are missed for a short time due to unforeseen circumstances such as hospitalization or respite care, leading to financial insecurity.
“The lack of entitlement to sick pay, the minimal provision of paid annual leave and the lack of contributory pension schemes for non-HSE carers need to be addressed.”
It called for the need to address the low wage rates in the sector and ensure all nurses are paid at least the national minimum wage of £12.90.
The advisory group warned of incidents of abuse towards caregivers, saying the low morale made them vulnerable to burnout
There is a churn of staff from private and not-for-profit providers to the HSE, which offers nurses cheaper rates than direct hires.
The advisory group warned of incidents of abuse towards caregivers, saying the low morale made them vulnerable to burnout.
The advisory group recommended lifting the current ban on recruiting carers from non-EU countries, but the requirement that they earn at least €27,000 a year may make it unattractive.
Nursing availability is limited in some areas of the country.
It said when the HSE puts out bids it should specify that staff are paid at least minimum wage and that they are reimbursed for travel and time spent on various clients.
However, it acknowledged that the HSE’s requirement for providers to comply with the recommendations could make it impossible for some providers to continue operating, particularly in the non-profit sector.
This could lead to financially challenging demands on the Treasury.
Mary Butler, Secretary of State for Older People, said in response to the report: “We urgently need to address the shortage of carers in Ireland and she welcomed the call to allow recruitment from outside the EU with potentially 1,000 jobs. permits issued.
“All nurses working in home care and nursing homes should be paid fair wages and conditions and have the opportunity to advance professionally.”
Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland’s Tadhg Daly warned that 16 care homes have closed this year.
“It’s a wake-up call for the Cabinet to accept that this is a problem,” he added.
Persistent issues remain related to the disparity in fair deal payments to private nursing homes versus public nursing homes, and the cost-of-living crisis is putting more homes in financial trouble. Some homes with 40 to 50 beds are affected by the closures, he said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/thousands-of-care-workers-have-poor-pay-and-conditions-and-earn-below-the-minimum-wage-new-report-finds-42074189.html Thousands of caregivers face poor wages and conditions, earning below minimum wage, a new report says