Change is coming slowly to the home care sector in Ireland. With an entrenched one size fits all system in place and a status quo that is looking to protect it’s market share often at the expense of the needs of families and carers, that change will come about when capacity and quality issues become too much to ignore.
Our platform Home Care Direct is new to the Irish home care market and in our efforts to improve home care provision for families and make caring a more attractive career, that pace of change can be frustrating but feedback from people who are using our service is vital in those moments, to remind us that the service we are offering does in fact serve a purpose and has a role to play in improving the sector we are involved in.
It’s not that we are reinventing the wheel, as platforms in home care like ours, empowering carers and people needing support, to work directly without a middleman in-between, aren’t new. They exist successfully in other countries and are playing an important role in addressing capacity and quality issues within the sector.
This knowledge together with the feedback we get from families using our service and carer’s working on the platform confirm that we are on the right path. Examples of some of this user feedback includes
Client A – We switched from using a traditional agency provider because of the problems we faced having constantly changing carers. With Home Care Direct we get real continuity because carers are earning significantly more but it in fact costs us less.
Client B – We have both agency carers and platform carers coming into us but we have noticed a huge difference in the attitude and motivation of the carers from the platform who are working for themselves. I suppose a lot of it is they are setting their own rates and view us as their clients so they take more ownership of their work. The agency carers change all the time and there seems to be little or no oversight which is supposed to be their differentiation.
Client C – We have a home care package for my parents from the HSE but they haven’t been able to find us a carer for over 3 months so we are paying privately for a carer from the platform which we found within a week. Her attitude is amazing. The HSE seemed to be happy to leave us without support being more concerned about tender arrangements.
Carer A – I had left the care sector after not being able to make ends meet working for €11/hr. I didn’t want to change but the retail job I found paid much better and was easier. Thankfully I came across Home Care Direct and after a little bit of hesitancy about working for myself, I am back in the home care sector I love and earning significantly more than I did even in retail. I actually love the increased responsibility I have and the fact I am in control, not a line manager. I think my clients are getting a really personal service and they have even recommended me to friends. I see myself not just as a carer but a mini entrepreneur.
As we build our book of evidence through testimonials like this and as our army of advocates grows for the advantages of our model, we are beginning to see the first changes that are needed in our home care sector to bring down waiting lists and allow home care play a much fuller role in our health sector. These local ripples will spread and hopefully in time, we will get a home care sector swamped with the waves of real choice, where families are trusted that they are often the experts in their own care and where caring is a truly valued career.