Care Now In The Hands of Older People in Ireland

“New HSE programme ensures the money follows the patient and is to be welcomed.”

Bluebird Care to provide homecare for older people nationwide on behalf of the HSE

Bluebird Care has welcomed the new approach to older persons care with individuals and family members being able to choose which homecare provider they work with, when the HSE cannot provide services directly.

This is a significant step forward for the homecare industry in Ireland. Older people across Ireland have the ability to research, evaluate and choose which company provides care in their own home. They can choose to work with a homecare provider that was successful in the recent older persons services tender, in the relevant area. This tender gives older people and their families more choice.

Managing Director of Bluebird Care Ireland was speaking following the announcement of the HSE Tender for Older Persons Services 2016-2018. Bluebird Care will provide homecare across Ireland in 25 counties to older people in their own home.

The Director of Care at the company, Breda Mulvihill says:

Bluebird Care is fully committed to providing high quality safe services within the home setting in line with best practice and national standards, and very much looks forward to the provision of home care to older persons on behalf of the HSE over the next number of years.

Bluebird Care has been operating in Ireland since 2007 and is an Irish-owned company. The company is the first franchised homecare company to have all its 26 offices Q Mark certified. It is also the current holder of the Q Mark Business Group of the Year Award and sees external quality auditing as a key factor in their ability to provide quality homecare.

Bluebird Care provides a nurse-led service with experienced and trained Care Supervisors, Care Coordinators, Social Care workers and Homecare Assistants making up the healthcare teams.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has announced €40m for home care services which will be broken down as follows:

  • €20m will be allocated to ensure that the 10.4 million home help hours
  • 15,450 home care packages
  • 130 intensive home care packages
  • 313 transitional care beds provided in 2015 are maintained
  • €10m will ensure that the rate of service allocation can be maintained during the summer months
  • €10m has been ring fenced for home care as part of the new winter initiative.

Minister Harris says:

As a result, we are not only maintaining home care and transitional care services at 2015 levels, but increasing them. I am privileged to have become Minister for Health at a time when we are in a period of reinvestment in the health services, which gives me the opportunity to address some immediate issues facing patients as well as meeting Programme for Government commitments I want to deliver in my first 100 days.  This includes a Winter Initiative to manage overcrowding in Emergency Departments, an integral part of which is increased resources for home care services.


Services for Older People

Delayed discharges and waiting lists for acute services can arise when sufficient supports are not available for our older citizens in the community.  Our population is ageing rapidly, with advances in healthcare leading to a dramatic rise in our older population.  There is now a stronger emphasis on home care and other community services which provide a greater range of options to avoid admission to acute hospitals, support early discharges, and, where appropriate, to rehabilitate and re-able patients after periods of particular difficulty.


The HSE provides a range of community-based services aimed at ensuring older people receive safe, timely and appropriate care and treatment at the lowest level of complexity, and as close to home as possible. However, demand for these services is rising as more people are supported in their own homes rather than in hospitals or nursing homes and I am delighted that the Government has been able to respond to this demand by providing an extra €40m for home care in 2016.


For the future, the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to increasing funding for home care packages and home help year on year. Of the additional €40m, €20m will be allocated to ensure that the 10.4 million home help hours, 15,450 home care packages, 130 intensive home care packages and 313 transitional care beds provided in 2015 are maintained; €10m will ensure that the rate of service allocation can be maintained during the summer months; and €10m has been ring fenced for home care as part of the new winter initiative.


There will, however, always be a cohort of older people who require a quality long-term residential care option.  This must continue to be available to anyone who needs it.

Service for People with Disabilities

The Government, together with the statutory and non-statutory agencies who provide services to people with disabilities, have been working towards empowering  people with disabilities to live independent lives, provide them with greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhancing their ability to tailor the supports they require to meet their needs and plan their lives. This year, funding of €1.59 billion in total is being provided for health and personal social services for wide and complex range of services and supports for people with disabilities, including the additional €31m which was secured for Disability Services, as was outlined by Minister McGrath last week.


The additional funding will cover costs incurred from compliance with national residential standards, services provided to meet the changing needs of people with disabilities, and the provision of emergency residential places. Of this additional funding, €3m is ear-marked for new initiatives, including an additional provision for services to meet the need of school leavers with disabilities and the anticipated cost of a number of emergency residential placements arising this year.


There is an onus on us all to use this substantial resource more effectively and efficiently.  And most importantly, we must ensure that we are achieving real and significant improvements in the lives of people with disabilities.


These improvements are being driven through Transforming Lives, which is the programme to implement the recommendations of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services in Ireland.






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