Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said more money needs to go into domiciliary care and district nursing to ensure fair pay and conditions, improve services to people being cared for at home, and to free up space in hospitals.
She said: “For too long domiciliary care has been the poor relation when it comes to resourcing, notably during budget rounds. Yet in fact it is the cog which makes the whole wheel go round.
“In a system predicated on the idea people are healthier at home, we must allocate more resources throughout the year towards ensuring they can be looked after at home by domiciliary carers and, where necessary, district nurses.
“Those care workers out in the community are often the eyes and ears for the entire system, and they must be properly compensated for the vital role they have within the entire healthcare service. Without their ability to provide care and, potentially, early intervention, the system would be in a still more precarious state. We also need to ensure they can provide care more efficiently, with basic call times raised to half an hour rather than 15 minutes."
Her colleague, East Antrim MLA Danny Donnelly, added: “I know from my experience within the system domiciliary care packages are often the key to enabling hospital discharge and thus the freeing up of hospital beds for those who need to access them.
“If we do not invest to ensure we can make those packages available, the burden inevitably falls back onto the health estate, which is already over-stretched.
“The issue therefore is not whether we can afford to better finance domiciliary care, but whether we can afford not to. Funding during budget rounds should be prioritised accordingly.”