The home care sector in Ireland is experiencing huge capacity issues because of a lack of carers. The main reason for this is that low pay and poor employment conditions from corporate providers, means that caring isn’t an attractive career.

At Home Care Direct we have as one of our missions, the aim to make caring an attractive career and in doing so, directly address the capacity issue the sector is facing.

We do this by putting carers at the centre of what we are doing. We empower them and put them in control. Because of this, we are attracting new people into caring and also keeping existing carers who otherwise would be leaving the sector.

In fact, a recent survey we carried out amongst carers on our platform, found that 29% were new entrants to caring and a further 24% were carers who were on the point of leaving the sector. That means that over 50% of the capacity that the Home Care Direct platform is bringing to the sector, is NEW capacity.

Take the case of attracting new entrants. Mary is from Tullamore. Mary is keen on contributing towards her local community and does so by being involved in the local GAA club, the parish and the local community centre. Mary knows most people in the town and most people know and trust Mary.

Mary would be very open to doing care work as well locally, but she has no interest in working for a corporate provider earning barely above the minimum wage. However, she is very interested in being enabled to work for herself in a safe and tax compliant manner, setting her own rates and availability and in addition having all her administration and tax returns managed for her.

At Home Care Direct we are making it easy to work for yourself and in doing so, enabling an army of Marys across the country.

Now take Siobhan living in Navan who has being working for the last 5 years with a corporate provider for €11.50/hr. She finds her roster changing on a regular basis building up little continuity with her clients and she is constantly asked to do last minute fill ins which don’t suit her. Siobhan is an experienced carer with her QQI major award but she feels undervalued and in these times of increasing costs just unable to cover her bills. She loves caring and knows she is capable of delivering great person-centred care but is prevented from doing so because of the system she works under. With a heavy heart she recently applied to the local Lidl for a job that pays significantly more.

At Home Care Direct we help the Siobhan’s of this world to turn her love for caring into an attractive career, enabling her to earn rates of €23/hr and to set her own availability. She also loves the feeling that her families are HER clients not an agency’s and because of this she is motivated to deliver an excellent person-centred service. She also loves taking on the role of sales and marketing for her micro enterprise. Most of all, she is delighted she never took up that Lidl job offer and is continuing to do what she loves best.

Having other options for both families and carers in how care is delivered is one way of addressing the capacity crisis in caring. Our existing one size fits all corporate model will never attract or hold the Mary’s and Siobhan’s of this world which is a serous problem taking into account the ever-increasing demand for home care.

Our commissioning system and upcoming regulation, needs to embrace new ways of working as well as fostering a wider ecosystem of providers, in order to offer both carers and families REAL CHOICE.