Seamus McDonagh

The Workers’ Party have called for the HSE to establish a plan to move all home helps into direct employment by the state health agency. The call comes in the wake of repeated scandals relating to the the exploitation of home helps by the private agencies who employ them.

Speaking on the matter, Workers’ Party representative for Meath, Séamus McDonagh, said:
“I have been approached by a number of carers and home helps in Meath who are exhausted by the level of mistreatment they have experienced at the hands of private agencies.

“A typical carer contracted by a private, for-profit ‘Home Care’ agency might make €11 – while their employer charges the HSE €25 / hour, creaming off the profit for themselves. For this paltry amount, they are then expected to provide a vital and skilled service to often vulnerable clients, without adequate training. This situation has to end.”

McDonagh said that carers in the Meath area face specific difficulties, saying:
“Carers are expected to attend multiple clients in the course of a day’s work. In Meath, these clients could be up to 45 minutes or an hour apart. The workers receive absolutely no compensation for the time spent travelling, or for the cost of travel. This is outrageous.

“Meanwhile, the client also suffers in this situation, since workers are forced to cut short the time they spend in each home, in order to fulfil unrealistic appointments schedules. Companionship is one of the most valuable aspects of the service home helps provide – but private, for profit agencies have no interest in this.”

McDonagh concluded:
“In the short-term, there is invaluable work being carried out by trade unions to negotiate proper unionisation and better terms and conditions for carers across the sector.

“However, in the longer-term, the appropriate way to tackle the issue is for the HSE to begin employing sufficient numbers of carers within the public system. The service provided by home helps is invaluable. We should pay and treat these vital workers properly – and no for-profit agency will ever do that.”