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Homecare packages - yet another HSE shambles

  • 02-08-2021 11:06am
    Registered Users Posts: 8,118 ✭✭✭BrianD3

    Situation is, a family member's health (dementia and other problems) has declined in recent years. We/the GP/geriatrician first requested homecare hours in early 2019. Was refused. Requested it multiple more times after that, each time refused. Eventually I was forced into paying for some private care and also left my job.

    Subsequently, (nearly two years after initial request) the HSE provided a homecare package of a few hours per week. Seemed to be part of their "Covid winter plan" so we probably have Covid to thank for them somewhat removing their heads from their asses. 

    Next problem is, the manner in which the service is provided is completely unsatisfactory. The homecare is outsourced to two agencies and there are issues with: 

    Carers not turning up, 

    Two carers from different agencies turning up at the same time

    Constant turnover of staff

    New carers turning up at the wrong time having received no handover, not knowing what to do, not able to find the house and annoying the neighbours for directions

    Carers not wearing Covid PPE 

    Massive variation in the times of calls

    Dire communication even though everyone involved has my mobile number

    And lots of other examples of shambolic service

    When I ring the HSE to complain (assuming that the phone is even answered), I get the usual HSE, public service rubbish of 

    "Ah, Mary is dealing with that and she's on leave" 

    "I don't know, I'm just back from leave"

    "That's terrible, we'll look into it"

    "I can't find the file on that, we will locate it and get back to you"

    "Yeah, we're having a meeting about that next week" 

    End result - nothing.

    The agencies blame the HSE and the HSE blames the agencies. I don't give a crap which one of them is more at fault, I just need the service provided as agreed and from my POV the HSE is providing the service and it's not my responsibility to fight with agencies engaged by the HSE. 

    Are the majority of those working in administration and management in the HSE complete imbeciles? I've found the public health nurses to be useless too. E.g. taking 8 weeks to sign a form with the old reliable of annual leave and being "busy" used as excuses. Oh, I've also gotten veiled threats from a PHN that if I complain too much, they might withdraw the service entirely. Then there are the HSE employees who try to extract information from you about money so they can gauge whether you'll just pay for services privately yourself, getting them off the hook. 

    I don't know how to go about resolving this and I doubt that turning up at their offices shouting my head off will do any good. Anyone have any idea on a way to put manners on these pricks?

    This is on top of many many issues with hospitals and other healthcare services. Don't get sick and don't get old in this country. Also, ANY statement, PR or communication that emanates from the HSE, Dept of Health. Minister etc. needs to be treated as a lie unless proven otherwise, This should be borne in mind when interpreting anything that they say on anything, from Covid to the cyber attack.



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Did they give you a reason as to why your family member was denied home care hours?

    I would log each and every time there’s an issue with staff and write (because the HSE probably won’t accept emails still) weekly to the HSE, the GP, the consultant, the PHN. Be civil but be firm stating that this is having a detrimental effect on both the family member requiring care and also you as their principal carer.

    Also call the PHN every time there’s a cock up. They have a duty of care to your family member and it has to be easier to get the issues sorted and you off their back.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,118 ✭✭✭BrianD3

    Agreed but I must say that the actual carers have been mostly excellent. Caring and competent but treated and paid badly by their employers. The issue I mentioned with not wearing PPE, I would bet that is not due to the carer but because it hasn't been provided or communication has been a shambles.

    Communication from agencies to their employees is generally bad and communication between agencies and HSE appears to be very poor also.

    Another thing I have found is that many paid carers seem to have ended up in those jobs having been unpaid family carers and have direct experience of the ineptitude of the HSE and other public service bodies. Careers given up to care for elderly or disabled family members, then trying to pick up work here and there to bring in some income. Same thing may happen to me,

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,019 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Yes, the company I’m referring to were not great... with all of the stress of the family they found themselves having to ‘manage’ the care provider too which is a stress they didn’t need.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    In this case the issue is not with HSE, but the agencies you are using. Which I assume are privately run, just paid for by the HSE.

    If you don't like the agencies or the staff, keep changing them until you get one thats competent. We went through quite a few.

    These carers are very poorly paid for an extremely difficult job. So the good ones are like gold dust, and there's lot of staff turn over, and lots of people try it as they are desperate for staff, so you get a lot of unsuitable people trying it.

    They (carers) are extremely under resourced, and over stretched. Ultimately if someone needs a lot of care in the home, you will find its almost impossible to provide that at home.

    In which case your looking at nursing homes. But you will find the same issues there. Good ones like gold dust, and very under resourced.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 24,019 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    A problem too is that if you are a younger person or person with less of a healthcare challenge you seem to fall down the list of priorities for the care company....

    they tried to move times, multiply times, change carers to suit other people who were not getting on with their own carers...

    you need to stick to your guns with them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,118 ✭✭✭BrianD3

    First few lines of your post are one of the cruxes of the issue - who is responsible for overseeing these companies? Surely there is a contract /SLA between them and the HSE? I didn't engage them, the HSE did. Yet I'm expected to manage poor performance? Completely unacceptable but a typical HSE stunt if true. Basically half arsed nonsense with abdication of responsibility. Like me buying a TV in Argos and when it develops a fault, being told to take it up with the manufacturer?

    Also, while I don't have any experience of carers employed directly by the HSE, I have heard of other people having serious issues there too e.g. care stopped for a considerable period with almost no notice given because someone was on annual leave, there was no cover and shur, the family can just sort it out themselves. Another good one from the HSE is steering people towards charities/NGOs which did happen to me at one stage. Family Carers Ireland would apparently be able to arrange (paid) care - except when I contacted them, they didn't have carers in my area.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    No ones forcing you to use the service. You can just pay privately and full control of the services you want.

    Its well known that the public system is in crisis and failing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    That's just life.

    It will be worse when we are older, more older people and even less tax income to pay for it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 24,019 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    We don’t have to accept it and threatened action that ultimately got us the satisfaction we and the patient required.

    it will be worse... for the reasons you say as well as others.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    Thats why I said keep changing agencies and carers until you find one you're happy with.

    But to be aware the limitations of the resources.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,878 ✭✭✭✭TheValeyard

    Have experienced something similar as OP as stated for a family member. Home Care is not fit for purpose and needs a major overhaul.

    Fcuk Putin. Glory to Ukraine!

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    The buck does stop with the HSE. They decide whether to send their own employees or outsource to agencies. Keep reminding them of this

    You can of course take on the role of selecting an agency yourself but it’s not really realistic, is it? I mean, the majority of people caring for a relative at home have been thrown into the situation without any prior medical or caring knowledge. Where would you even start when asking an agency questions?

    Go private? Yeah, see how quick your 219 a week carers allowance disappears

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,077 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice

    Log all the mistakes and contact an advocacy group of some kind Alone or some group like that.

  • The old “Home Help” system was great. They would cook, clean as well as personal care. That’s no longer the case. Personal care only with family doing the rest. Some families can cope with this, but not all can. Unfortunately, the only alternative is a nursing home.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,019 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    I’m not sure if the HSE can do spot checks by calling to somebody's home, I’d doubt it, but the company is supposed to periodically enable management to do so... do home visits, check that the care is being delivered adequately, checking the care log / diary or equivalent..

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    I've never seen a HSE carer. Over many years it was all outsourced agencies. Is it even a thing, a HSE carer?

    There's nothing the OP mentioned that needs experience. Its all basic stuff and they take you through what they will do and what they won't do.

    I ran out of patience and if I wasn't working out, just asked them to switch agency or staff until we got people who were reliable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,419 ✭✭✭antix80

    For my gran, we just paid cash in hand for a reliable lady.

    HSE is a money pit. And honestly, even if it were "properly run" the demand for services will always far outweigh supply.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,118 ✭✭✭BrianD3

    One other thing - as the HSE homecare package is inadequate, I engaged one of the agencies privately for some extra hours. I was very careful to state exactly what I needed before signing the SLA.

    The service for the private hours seems to be better than the service from the same agency for the homecare package hours

    I would have thought that a small fry client like me would get a poorer service but perhaps it is the opposite if HSE management and staff are incompetent and apathetic in terms of procurement and contract management. Shur who cares about that - the taxpayer will foot the bill, the care recipient's family will pick up the slack if there is a poor service and staff will get their pensions no matter what happens 🙄

  • Registered Users Posts: 481 ✭✭mariab21

    Switch agencies until you find someone reliable is your solution?

    The FF/FG way ffs

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    Yes. If a service is bad, I don't keep using it. Same with a tradesman, a shop etc. Carers and agencies are no different. Got nothing to do with politics.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,101 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    I'm not sure people get that. Homecare is completely unable to meet demand.

    Even if you get the full allocation of 2 hrs or so a day. You will eventually have a massive gap in care that the state can't fill.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Yep, they’re are carers directly employed by the HSE. My personal experience a few years ago was a huge recruitment drive by the HSE where they poached the best and most experienced carers off of the agencies whilst expecting the same agencies to still provide the extra staff/backup from the staff they had left. They agency I know we’re rightly pissed off about this and pulled all their staff from HSE contracts.

    In 2017 the care package allowed a person to have a maximum of 21 care hours per week but could be increased based on need. Ours was increased in late 2018 by a further hour and currently we get 31.5 hours per week (the new agency insisted on this).

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,109 ✭✭✭Deeec

    I do agree that carers should be paid more. But your comment that families should pay more is very unfair. There are many elderly people/families out there who cant afford to pay for private care. The HSE should be paying the carers more and provide a service fit for purpose.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 70 ✭✭emzippy

    Hi OP,

    In terms of making a formal complaint, there is "Your Service Your Say." It's the official complaint form for the HSE. I don't know if they are of use but it's the formal avenue of complaint so they have to escalate it and respond to you. I hope things get better. The HSE is an absolute shambles!