South Antrim MLA Pam Cameron who also is Deputy Chair of the Health Committee said,
“This is positive news for essential workers who are underpaid and have rightly felt undervalued. The Minister needs a long-term plan to tackle this crisis. Sticking plasters will not be enough.
We need to make the sector more attractive; we need a stable, skilled workforce to help us care for our most vulnerable. With poor terms and conditions, however, it is little wonder organisations struggle to recruit and retain staff.
500 people in the Southern Trust are either in hospital or a step-down facility waiting on a care package. The Health Minister confirmed that on average 300 beds per day are occupied by people medically fit to be discharged because no care package is available. I hope this announcement makes a significant, positive impact but we need more detail to see impact.
Following engagement with domiciliary care providers, call out times for those who need assistance to live at home should be increased. Fifteen-minute call outs are not appropriate or sustainable. Last year, 45% of visits lasted less than fifteen minutes. Appropriate workforce planning and review of services is required urgently.”
The DUP’s Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA Deborah Erskine who also sits on the Health Committee added,
“This is good news, but big questions remain for the Minister and his Department. Our Party on an almost daily basis been campaigning for the Department to see the need to support Domiciliary Care workers. It’s long past the time for such an announcement.
Our care workers must meet the cost of increased fuel prices whilst working on low pay scales. These workers are vital. A sustainable plan for the workforce is needed.
We need to see what this money will mean on the ground. Workers will want to know how it will help them. They are facing severe pressure - understaffed and overworked. When divided across the Trusts, what will £23m look like? How many care packages will it enable to be put in place?
These are all questions the Health Minister will need to address.”