Independent Castlebar based Cllr Michael Kilcoyne raised the issue of families who are in receipt of home support to cover absences from those support workers themselves with the HSE Regional Health Forum. Cllr Kilcoyne put forward this question to the forum ahead of its meeting this week. "Why has the Home Support Department decided that they expect families who are in receipt of Home Support to cover absent periods for staff on annual/sick leave. What assessment was carried out before this decision was taken? Is there a panel in place of persons who can be employed for home support?."
He received the following written response from Breda Crehan-Roche, Chief Officer, Community Healthcare West: "Every effort is made to cover staff who are on Annual Leave / Sick Leave. Home Support prioritise clients with the greatest care needs for care which includes annual leave cover in the first instance. However, in exceptional circumstances when cover is not available, and there are no carers to provide this cover, we communicate with the client and family members with regards to same. Clients and their families are informed on service commencement that leave cover may not be possible. With additional Home Support hours has increased significantly over the last few years. This challenges both HSE staff and direct providers of Home Support to deliver the hours approved and also to cover when carers are on annual leave and/or sick leave. There is currently no panel in place for Health Care Support Assistants in Mayo.