Domiciliary care crisis grows as demand 'outstripping available supply
A GROWING waiting list for care packages offered to those living with illness or disability in the north must be urgently addressed, it has been warned as available care descreases.
The Department of Health has revealed that as of January, 2,780 people were waiting for a domiciliary-care package, in which carers can assist disabled or ill people in their own home.
The BBC revealed the backlog after speaking with the family of a Co Down teenager who requires round-the-clock care after being injured in a road collision. Their package offering has reduced, and the Department of Health has confirmed that available care has "unfortunately seen a decline over the winter period".
Along with 2,780 people on the waiting list, a further 1,752 people were waiting for a partial element of their assessed domiciliary-care package.
A department spokesperson said a November 2021 funding package of £23 million aimed to reduce pressures by increasing hours delivered by the independent sector by around 8 per cent, but that care hours declined last winter as "challenges remain" in recruiting and retaining staff as demand was "outstripping available supply".
Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MLA Liz Kimmins said a health minister was required at Stormont to tackle care waiting lists and ease pressure on families.
"The sharp decline in the number of care packages delivered over the winter is deeply concerning and impacting on families who are badly in need of support to take care of their loved ones," she said.
"With over 2,700 people on a waiting list, staff are also facing huge challenges due to lack of resources and understaffing. This needs to be urgently addressed.
"Families and health workers need a health minister in place and an Executive working together to invest in the health service, to hire more staff and tackle waiting lists now."