12th October 2023
SERVICE USER/ LEADER – IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Dear Service User/ Leader,
This letter contains a lot of information and outlines current circumstances that may directly affect your Cork Centre for Independent Living (Cork CIL) Personal Assistant (PA) service. Please take the time to read it carefully.
Planned Industrial Action
Many of you will have read about the planned indefinite strike action from 17th October 2023. The decision to strike followed ballots carried out by Fórsa, the INMO and SIPTU after negotiations with HSE and Work Relations Commission (WRC) in relation to Pay Parity broke down.
Cork CIL has not yet received notice of industrial action by any of our staff, but this does not mean that we will not be affected. If Cork CIL is affected by industrial action, we will prioritise the Service Users using the same approach as we did during the height of the Covid- 19 pandemic. This means we will prioritise Service Users who receive supports with personal care and / or have no other supports available to them. With regret this means that in the event of industrial action social inclusion sessions will be affected. We will let you know if this happens.
Some organisations have been identified as employments where staff will take indefinite strike action from Tuesday 17th October. If you have a service from or attend one of these organisations and the industrial action affects you, I regret that Cork CCIL cannot provide an alternative service or additional PA hours.
Staffing Issues and Service Funding
As you know Cork CIL services are funded by the HSE. This budget has remained unaltered for some time. In 2022 and 2023, we have seen our costs increase. These growing costs are on items like mileage, utilities, insurance, and professional fees that as a company we have to pay. Staff pay has not risen since 2020 but we have experienced a lot of long-term sickness absence, and this has also added to our costs in a way we have not experienced before. As a result we are exceeding our income for 2023 which means we will have a budget deficit at the end of the year.
Whilst this is an issue separate from industrial action it will also impact our services for the remainder of 2023 and in all likelihood into 2024. Whilst we continue to argue for increased resources we must work to reduce our current overspend. In that context I regret to tell you that Cork CIL cannot commence any new PA hours or commence any hours that are currently ‘on hold’ or where we have a ‘ vacancy’ except in very exceptional circumstances and with additional funding identified. The only limited additional supports that will be available to Cork CIL are cancelled paid PA hours and this is where you can help us.
This is where you can help. Please give us as much advance notice as you can for any session you need to cancel. We all understand that some cancellations are short notice but tell us as soon as you know and that way another service user can avail of the hours.
We do our best to cover essential sessions, but we are currently experiencing a lot of challenges in getting staff to cover sessions. Because of this unresolving difficulty we must now prioritise the most essential cover first (personal care). A cover PA may not be at the usual time or a regular PA, so I encourage you to think about your own social supports and your own backup plan.
If your service is social inclusion whilst we understand that your service is important to you we are not able to cover all the sessions however, if your PA is on long term sickness or extended leave, and if you live alone we will do our best to cover part of your session to help with essential aspects of day to day living but again you should have a back-up plan.
Cork CIL has always tried to provide some additional PA sessions for people who live alone on the lead up to Christmas. This is mainly for social supports like shopping. I regret that we cannot offer this this year so I would urge you to think about calling on your natural support of family and friends and plan ahead.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. There is a lot of information included in this. If you have any questions, please call me 0867929684 I will be happy to talk to you.
General Manager Cork CIL