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HCA & Carers Ireland Official Response to “Care in Covid” RTÉ Investigates – Primetime - 01/07/2021


First and foremost we at HCA & Carers Ireland would like to pass the deepest of sympathies to the families affected by yesterday’s Primetime “Care in Covid” RTÉ Investigates Special. We at HCA & Carers Ireland know that last night’s show was deeply personal and a reality for many families across the nation of Ireland.


Covid-19 has brought with it many challenges, much toil and very little reprieve for many in our society. We are thankful for the hard work of all Healthcare Assistants, Professional Carers and Family Carers up and down our caring nation. To be a healthcare worker, especially in the area of care during this pandemic has been akin to soldiers in a war.


We would also like to thank the whistleblowers who are strong, compassionate and model care practitioners of our practice in care. We as an organisation, with firm beliefs in duty of care and dignity, HCA & Carers Ireland would like to enforce the truth that all HCAs can report Malpractice confidentially to the national body HIQA.


We would also like to offer our support to any Healthcare Assistant, Qualified Carer, Carer/HCA in-training who may have been affected by last night’s show, whether negative or positive in which you feel you can take action against the issues which were presented in last night’s show. (Please see the end of this blog post for Support if needed - Confidential)


We would like to thank RTÉ Investigates Team in Primetime RTÉ, for their ever poignant programme of displaying the real human cost of this pandemic, how preventative measures are and forever will be the most important in nursing home care, how malpractice needs to be addressed and how heart-wrenching the reality many of our supporters have lived since March 2020 has been, losing their residents to this awful Coronavirus War.


We at HCA & Carers Ireland, have been very keen to make positive change through social policy, research, regulation, registration and representation for the science, art and practice of Caring in Ireland.


Our research study with UCD CSTAR through the UCD School for Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, published last March (2020) noted issues that assisted the virus. 43 (Forty-three) Recommendations were made, based on academic integrity, public health knowledge and best practice of care.


These recommendations still stand, five, in particular, were deliberately noted for Nursing Home Settings. Some ever more poignant within the constraints of the pandemic.


  • Staff ratio needs to be looked at, there is no national staffing ratio placed on nursing homes. Putting staff mental and physical health at risk due to understaffing is an issue which is covered by core competencies of HIQA


  • Low staff ratios have an effect on the mental, physical well-being of a HCA, feeling overworked, stressed, burnt out easily and result in a high turnover of staff. Their time spent with clients is limited, assisting clients should be all about personal centred care, we question is this possible when a place of work may have - 1 RGN 6 HCAs to 50 clients (Common observation by members within HCA & Carers Ireland).


  • Low pay and time pressure two biggest complaints in the private nursing home sector. When Workers do not feel valued, this can result in longer illness leave due to stress.


  • Training of staff, some staff have no training, others have two modules, and some are fully trained, training to a full award should be in a training plan and ongoing CPD (safeguarding, dementia awareness, infection control, people moving and handling, pressure sore awareness, assisted feeding, catheter and stoma care) should be in place always not only when an inspection is imminent


  • The role of the HCA / Qualified Carer needs urgent regulation throughout all sectors and settings this is required to ensure a sense of Occupational Progression for HCAs and qualified carers.


  • The professionalisation of the occupation; It takes many hours of study and practice to become a fully qualified HCA / carer. We have seen many improvements for careers that require no formal education these include cleaners, security and other skill-based employment which have been given better terms and conditions as compared to HCAs and qualified carers.


  • Regulation is required in all areas of care


  • A Formal Mandatory Registration / Licence System is required across all sectors and setting, to ensure consistency of public health provision, to assist human resource departments with a one-stop-view of a candidate’s entire formal education, experiences, continuous professional development, issues and salary scale. To provide reassurance to clients, patients, residents and service users about who cares for them (Public Reassurance and Safety). To ensure consistency in recruitment, training and professional development. A similar system to the NMBI or our counterparts in Northern Ireland. This has been advised by the European Commission.


  • All workers should be proficient in English language skills.


Again we would like to thank all of the brave HCAs & Carers in Ireland for calling out malpractice and for working in a very unique and stressful period of the profession.


If you are a HCA or Carer who feels personally affected by last night's show, please know we now have a HCA & Carers Ireland Emergency Support line - Whatsapp - 085-8164516


Our National Study can be found at www.hca.ie or via https://www.lenus.ie/handle/10147/627406 or https://researchrepository.ucd.ie/handle/10197/11457


Keep Safe and Well


HCA & Carers Ireland Team