A recently published report by Home and Community Care Ireland has quantified savings of €2B over the 8 years to 2021. This translates into 18 million extra hours of home care and an additional 8,600 jobs.
€2B is a big number and normally when you are talking about making savings of this magnitude it means severe cuts to services as well as major pain for some section of society.
In this case no! What we are talking about is a win-win situation by giving people what they want. The power of choice and the ability to stay at home for as long as possible.
So how are these magical savings generated? Are they radical solutions needing root and branch reform? Are they reforms which haven’t been done elsewhere and as such there is a lot of risk involved?
No and No.
These savings are generated by implementing the types of policies already carried out in numerous other jurisdictions.
What is been called for is firstly, the introduction of open and transparent commissioning of the existing home care budget of €340M which would ensure better quality care at a lower price. In the absence of regulation in the home care market, this would be an important driver of quality by allowing patients to vote for providers with their feet.
Secondly, an end to the ring fencing of budgets for one type of care over another within the older persons budget and allowing instead patients to direct the spending of one over all budget for elderly care through their preferences.
Savings of €117M for 2014 alone are available if these measures are implemented. The Minister of Health owes an explanation to our older population why he is implementing frontline cuts that are having a devastating affect on their lives when he has two easily implemented and tried and tested solutions available as detailed in the report.