Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that rates will be uplifted by around 12% to £14.76 per hour which will be backdated to the 1st of April 2022.
This £7.1 million will be retained in the coming years but still presents a discrepancy between current domiciliary care rates which stands at £18 per hour.
Said the Foyle MLA: “An uplift in Self-Directed Support (SDS) rates for carers is welcome news and is a provision which I have been pushing for ever since the increase in the rate of domiciliary care was announced in March of this year.
“The increase of the domiciliary care rate to £18 per hour was long-overdue however the failure to implement a rise for service users who receive direct payments at a rate of £13.18 per hour, created a huge anomaly within social care services.
“People in need of care were left with no option but to go down the direct care route given the difficulty in securing home care packages.
“The reality is that demand is spiralling and health trusts across the North are signposting individuals and their families to direct payments.
“These people were disadvantaged straight away; if they chose to pay their carers an increase rate to match that of their counterparts in agencies then they were left out of pocket, forced to pay shortfall or reduce the number of hours of care they needed.
“As such this uplift will help people in need of care.
“Yet the reality remains that carers are still not paid anywhere near enough despite the invaluable role they play within society.
“The crisis in social care has persisted for over a decade, it has escalated particularly within the last few years.
“Over the last year alone, the number of individuals waiting for care packages in Northern Ireland has increased by 60%.
“It’s evident there aren’t enough carers to meet demand. Yet there are a number of factors at play here; funding, the fact demand outstrips supply and capacity issues.
“Of course, more investment is needed in short term- however, increased funding is nothing without transformation as well as effective workforce planning.
“We need to attach more value to jobs in social care and that involves improving pay as well as working conditions.
“The £7.1 million investment needs to be sustainable and retained well into the future.
“It is important that it is not capped given the growing need and growing ageing population.
“This uplift in rates is no doubt a step in the right direction but needs to go much further,” added Mr Durkan.Tags: