Recruiting and retaining home care workers – what can Ireland learn from other European countries?

HRB Evidence Centre

The problem:

Countries across Europe, including Ireland, are facing recruitment and retention issues among workers in the home care sector.


The project:

The Department of Health asked the HRB to examine the role, recruitment and retention of care workers providing home care services in Germany, Sweden, Scotland and the Netherlands.


The outcomes:

  • We now know that in these four European countries challenges in the recruitment of care workers to the home care sector are not simply down to increased demand.
  • The study found that unstandardised approaches to training, poor employment and working conditions and lack of career opportunities are barriers to care workers staying in the home care sector.
  • The evidence indicates that Ireland can ease the crisis by providing good working conditions, education and training, regulation, registration, indemnity and mentoring, continued learning and development, and well-defined career pathways for home carers.
  • The study’s publicly available evidence brief can now inform the Department of Health as it develops a statutory scheme for financing and regulating home support services in Ireland, as outlined in the Programme for Government (published in 2020).

Dr Lisa Murphy, HRB Research Officer, says:

“Many European countries face a crisis in the home care sector, where not enough care workers go into or remain in the sector. What we found by looking at various sources of information relating to home care workers in Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden were some common themes, including the need to create more stable working conditions and career opportunities for home care workers. Ireland can now learn from the findings, and resource and promote the culture of the sector in a way that makes it more attractive for home care workers.”

Recruiting and retaining home care workers – what can Ireland learn from other European countries? is part of a wider collection of success stories across four themes from this year's annual Health Research in Action.

Download the full Health Research in Action publication (549 kB).

See Department of Health's Evidence Brief: The role, function, and supply of home care workers in four European countries

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