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‘Loco parentis’ clause in homecare nursing contracts for sick children ‘must be abolished’ – Ó Caoláin

28 March, 2018 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Last night in the Dáil, a Sinn Féin Private Members Motion on disability rights, championed by Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Disability Rights Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, was passed unanimously. Contained in this motion was a call on Government to “abolish immediately the ‘loco parentis’ clause in homecare nursing contracts for sick children”.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said that there was now an expectation in the sector that the Government would move swiftly to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adding “parents and carers now deserve the certainty that the Government will no longer tarry or equivocate when it comes to the rights of disabled citizens.”

 The ‘loco parentis’ clause, enforced by the HSE, requires that, while a qualified nurse is caring for their sick child, should a parent need to leave the home, the parent must provide ‘a designated competent individual’ to be present along with the nurse. This requirement is effectively making prisoners of parents of extremely sick children in their own homes.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“I and a number of my colleagues in Sinn Féin have been engaging with advocacy and parents groups on this issue for some time. This clause is not practical. It is prohibitory and is placing added and unnecessary stress on parents and families who are already living under extremely difficult circumstances.

“Last evening, a unanimous reflection of the current will of the Dáil was passed which called for the immediate abolition of this clause.

“Minister of State Jim Daly commenting on the clause in the course of his contribution to the debate stated that a National Quality Assurance process is underway and that when the process is complete and the findings of the respite questions collated the National Steering Group for children with complex medical conditions will review the issue of ‘Loco Parentis’ prior to the publication of the new policy and practice documents later this year.

“This is too late. It is a delaying tactic and following last night’s decision is surely not necessary. I am calling on the Government through Minister Finian McGrath to respect the decision of the Dáil and to abolish this clause immediately.” 

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