Age Action is calling for urgent regulation to govern the home help service including mandatory vetting of staff, following this week’s RTE Prime Time exposure of physical and psychological abuse of older people by home help workers.
“The shocking scenes broadcast using undercover cameras are the consequence of what happens when there is no regulation of a vital service to vulnerable people,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said. “It is not acceptable that people who are not Garda vetted can work in the homes of vulnerable people, where they are often in the home on their own with the older person. While a number of private home care providers voluntarily allow staff to be Garda vetted, it is not mandatory to do so.”
Age Action is also calling for proper standards and training, and independent auditing of them, to ensure they are delivered on the ground.
“The State has an obligation to ensure that vulnerable people are protected from those who may prey on their vulnerability, and adequately cared for by those entrusted to care for them,” Mr Timmins said. “The State has moved in recent years to provide standards and proper regulation of the nursing home sector used by five per cent of older people. We now need the same protection for the 20 per cent of older people who may need support at some stage of their lives to enable them remain living with dignity in their own homes.”
There have already been a number of cases of older people being robbed and abused by carers in their own homes and a number of these have already come before the courts, added Mr Timmins. “The State must now live up to its responsibilities to the most vulnerable, by regulating the home care sector and ensure they receive the service they are entitled to,” he said.
A number of private home care providers have been disassociating themselves from the RTE exposure this week.