The Health Minister in Northern Ireland has announced a support package of up to £23 million for domiciliary care and the wider social care sector.
Robin Swann said the funding will enable employers to offer improved rates of pay and attract more staff into the domiciliary care and care home workforces.
Just like in the rest of the UK, an escalating workforce shortfall in domiciliary care in Northern Ireland has led to providers being unable to deliver contracted home care packages.
This has contributed to the problem of delayed discharges in hospitals.
The Minister said: “This £23m package has been developed through detailed engagement with the sector and I am grateful for this collaborative approach.
“I am confident the funding will facilitate increased capacity across the social care sector for the remainder of 2021/22.”
Swann explained that the funding is a short term solution for the remainder of 2021/22.
“A longer-term solution is self-evidently needed, involving multi-year budgets and a durable financial settlement for all health and social care services,” he explained.
“I will very shortly be launching a public consultation on the future of adult social care.”
The Minister continued: “As I have repeatedly stated, social care needs a long-term programme of both investment and reform.
“While there are many competing demands on Northern Ireland’s public finances, this has to be a priority in the coming years
“We have to invest in staffing – in making a social care a more rewarding job in terms of both remuneration and career opportunities.”
The Homecare Association has previously campaigned for an end to £15 per hour rates for homecare in Northern Ireland.
Its Homecare Deficit report showed that, prior to this announcement, commissioners in Northern Ireland were paying the lowest rate of any region in the UK at an average of £15.76 per hour.