Unregulated Home Helps are Putting the Elderly at Risk, Charity Warns

Charities working with the elderly have warned that the lack of regulation in the private home care industry is putting older people at risk.

Dermot Kirwan of Friends of the Elderly told the Irish Times that in recent years there has been a proliferation of home help companies as well as smaller operations providing services as “nixers” within the community. These provide services for the elderly in their own homes.

He said the influx of private companies offering this service mean the elderly are being put in a “very vulnerable” situation. “My worry is there’s going to be another Leas Cross behind closed doors somewhere.

“All home carers ought to be registered and regulated and Hiqa [Health Information and Quality Authority] standards should be extended and the resources found so there can be random checks on these organisations,” he added.

Eamon Timmins, head of advocacy and communications with Age Action Ireland said while there were plans to put guidelines in place, disreputable companies would simply choose to ignore them.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said regulation of the community based sector was being “actively pursued” following two recent reports, the Commission on Patient Safety in 2008 and the Law Reform Commission report on Legal Aspects of Carers in 2009, both of which recommended regulation of the sector.

(Source: Irish Times)