Staff shortages mean nearly two million hours of home help won’t be delivered this year.
New figures released to Newstalk show there are now more than 5,000 people on waiting lists for home supports.
The HSE has budgeted to deliver over 24 million hours of home help to elderly and vulnerable people this year – but it will fall far short of delivering that.
As of the end of May, only 8.7 million hours were delivered for over 55,000 people around the country.
The HSE now estimates about 35,000 hours’ worth of care will not be delivered every week this year, because of staff shortages.
That amounts to over 1.8 million over the course of 2022.
Pay and conditions
Sinn Fein's health spokesman David Cullinane told Newstalk urgent action is needed to recruit more staff.
“I think in this instance when it comes to home helps, it is terms and conditions of employment,” he said
“It is a really difficult job with very low rates of pay,” he said. “It is one of those areas that has been a real difficulty and a challenge for a long, long time and I just don’t see any plan from the HSE in relation to how they are going to address this issue.
“The problem, if anything, seems to be getting worse year on year.”
He said the issue is adding to the hospital overcrowding crisis.
“The first problem is that people who should be cared for in the home are not getting the support they need as quickly as they should,” he said.
“Secondly, it’s very difficult for hospital managers to be able to get those intensive homecare packages some need to enable a timely discharge from hospitals.
“That is then taking up capacity in hospital which is also adding to the problems we are having in emergency departments.”
The figures show that 5,068 people are currently waiting for a new home care package or for additional hours, after being assessed.