Quantum of public home care provision in Ireland – correlation with economic growth
Liam O’Sullivan | Care Alliance
Background: Ireland has experienced one of the most acute recent economic recessions (2008-2011) in the industrial world. This is being followed by a period of extraordinary economic growth (2014-2016). In parallel with this, over this 8 year period, its population in need of long term care, in particular of home care, has increased by in excess of 25%, using over 65 and over 85 populations as a proxies for estimating home care support needs.
Objective: Accurately capture the quantum of publicly funded home care in Ireland over the period 2008-2016
Data and methods: A desk based review of primarily (but not exclusively) state health and social care publications has attempted to unravel the complexities of accurately measuring the overall quantum of publicly funded home care supports over this period.
Results: The change in the quantum of provision over the 8 years moderately correlates with that of the changes in the size of the economy of the country rather than the needs of its ageing population. A time lag between the reduction in the size of the economy and a reduction in publicly funded home care supports has been accompanied by a delay in the subsequent restoration of pre-recession level provision. Utilisation rates remain approximately 10% lower than historical highs and point to a significant deficit in current care provision.
Policy implications: Policy makers at all levels need to make concerted attempts at developing more considered and comprehensive recommended utilisation rates. If, as it seems, that public home care provision mirrors closely economic resources, deferred payment/co-funding models might help weaken such correlation. Finally, we discuss the implications of an ongoing deficit in home care provision in terms of increased pressures on Family Carers.