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Minister Butler and English launch Report of Strategic Workforce Advisory Group on Home Carers and Nursing Home Healthcare Assistants

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD and the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, launched the Report of the Strategic Workforce Advisory Group on Home Carers and Nursing Home Healthcare Assistants.

The cross-departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group was established in March 2022 by Minister Butler to examine strategic workforce challenges in publicly and privately provided frontline carer roles in home support and long-term residential care for older people. The Group’s report provides a comprehensive overview of the complex and inter-related challenges that are affecting the recruitment and retention of care workers. It makes 16 wide-ranging recommendations to urgently address these, spanning the areas of recruitment, pay and conditions, barriers to employment, and training and professional development, as well as sectoral reform. The recommendations:

  • Raise awareness of the training and employment opportunities that are available for care workers
  • Ensure greater equity in pay and conditions for care workers across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors
  • Facilitate collective bargaining
  • Remove disincentives for part-time work by the unemployed
  • Enable the employment of non-EU/EEA care workers in Ireland for roles in the sector
  • Support care workers’ professional development
  • Build the HSE’s capacity for timely, localised recruitment
  • Enhance the qualitative evidence base for policymaking in the sector

Welcoming the report Minister Butler and Minister English strongly endorsed all of the Group’s recommendations, committing to their full implementation as a priority.

With one of the most rapidly ageing populations in the EU, Ireland faces an ever-increasing challenge to address the shortage of care workers, a significant proportion of whom are themselves older people. 

Minister Butler said: “All care workers working in home support and long-term residential care for older people should receive fair pay and conditions and have the opportunity to progress in their careers. We need to show home support workers and healthcare assistants that we value the important work they do and make it a viable career option. I echo the Advisory Group’s call for all private sector and voluntary providers to commit to pay home support workers and healthcare assistants the National Living Wage at a minimum (currently €12.90), and for home support workers to receive payment for all time spent travelling between people’s homes and for other reasonable travel expenses.

“We need to urgently address the shortage of care workers in Ireland. In conjunction with wider sectoral reforms which are in train, implementation of the Group’s recommendations will have a real and lasting impact on addressing these workforce challenges.”

Minister English welcomed the recommendations to address the barriers to the recruitment of care workers, as highlighted in the report. These include commitments to:

  • Run a national campaign to raise the profile of training and employment opportunities for care workers
  • Undertake a review of public employment services to increase the number of jobseekers who become care workers
  • Build the HSE’s capacity for timely and locally focused recruitment
  • Enhance European-level recruitment activities
  • Undertake a review of the eligibility criteria for State benefits to ensure that engagement in part-time employment is not disincentivised
  • Remove home care workers from the Ineligible Occupations List to enable the employment within Ireland of up to 1,000 non-EU/EEA citizens in this area

Minister English commented: “The current shortage of care workers is a significant issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. We therefore need to simultaneously tackle the challenges that are impeding recruitment at national level and facilitate international recruitment in the shorter term. I hope that the implementation of the Advisory Group’s recommendations will significantly improve the pay and conditions of care workers in Ireland and make it a more attractive and sustainable career. 

“Accordingly, I am announcing that 1,000 General Employment Permits will be made available for home care workers from January 2023. As recommended by the Advisory Group, these permits will be for full-time positions with a minimum salary of €27,000 per year and a stipulated minimum continuous shift-length of four hours per working day. This will ensure good quality employment for care workers who come to Ireland while at the same time alleviating our national recruitment crisis.”

The implementation of the Advisory Group’s recommendations has commenced and will be closely monitored by the Implementation Group that has been established by the Department of Health.


Notes to Editors:

The Report of the Strategic Workforce Advisory Group on Home Carers and Nursing Home Health Care Assistants can be downloaded here.

The Strategic Workforce Advisory Group was chaired by the Department of Health and its membership comprised representatives from seven government departments, Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Health; Higher and Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science; Justice; Public Expenditure and Reform; and Social Protection), the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and SOLAS.