Minister Butler welcomes recommendations to address the critical shortage of care workers in Ireland

Published on: 18 October 2022

Today the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler T.D. published the Report of the Strategic Workforce Advisory Group on Home Carers and Nursing Home Healthcare Assistants.

Minister Butler commented: “I established the cross-departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group in March 2022 to examine strategic workforce challenges in publicly and privately provided front-line carer roles in home support and nursing homes, and to develop recommendations to urgently address these. I am delighted to publish this very timely report and I strongly endorse the Group’s recommendations. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the complex challenges that are affecting the recruitment and retention of care workers and makes wide-ranging recommendations to address these.”

The Group developed a suite of 16 recommendations, which are presented in the report. These span the areas of:

  • recruitment
  • pay and conditions of employment
  • barriers to employment
  • training and professional development
  • sectoral reform
  • monitoring and implementation

Minister Butler continued: “We need to urgently address the shortage of care workers in Ireland. I welcome the Group’s clear recommendation to provide for work permit arrangements for non-EU/EEA citizens as home support workers once new regulations are introduced, removing them from the Ineligible Occupations List and matching current arrangements in place for healthcare assistants in nursing homes. The report recommends that up to 1,000 work-permits be issued which promises to have a real impact on existing workforce shortages.”

The report also makes a number of recommendations with respect to the pay and pensions for home support workers and healthcare assistants in private and voluntary organisations.

Minister Butler continued: “All care workers working in home support and nursing homes 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 fully support the 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 service user’s homes and for other reasonable travel expenses.”

Following its establishment, the Group examined the recruitment, retention, training, career-development, and pay and conditions of front-line carers in these sectors and undertook a structured programme of stakeholder engagement to gain insight into the challenges arising from the perspective of key sectoral groups. 

Minister Butler commented: “I would like to thank the representatives from the home support and nursing home sectors as well as from unions and non-governmental organisations working in the field who participated in this process. Their input has been vital to ensuring the Group’s recommendations reflect the most pressing issues on the ground.”

Minister Butler concluded: “I am confident that delivery on these recommendations will help ensure that the care needs of those who need supports are met. Work will start immediately to progress these key recommendations through a dedicated Implementation Group.”

The report is available online here.


ENDS // 


Notes to Editor 


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.