Failure by the HSE and the Department of Health to properly project the demand for nursing home places has lead to a situation where the 1,700 additional places announced last June were taken up within 14 days.
The situation has been highlighted by Denis Naughten TD who pointed out: “This gross miscalculation has now resulted in 1,100 older people, many of whom are in hospital beds and who have no alternative for care, having to wait for a person to die before they can avail of a nursing home place. This is totally unacceptable.”
On 9th June last Minister Reilly told the Dáil “as of mid-May there were 22,277 people in receipt of State support through the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, versus 21,421 at the end of 2010. My Department has estimated that the total number of people covered by the Scheme by year end should be almost 24,000, i.e., a net increase of 1,700 compared to mid-May. This increase will be financed out of a range of savings which have been identified”.
“Despite this the scheme was again closed by 23rd June and this is compounding the overcrowding crisis in our hospitals,” stated Denis Naughten.
“There is no doubt that the outgoing Fianna Fail government failed to provide adequate funding for the nursing home scheme, a situation that has been compounded by the management of acute hospital beds.
“It is now imperative that the Minister does not look at the nursing home funding crisis in isolation; in many cases there is a more cost effective solution available through sheltered housing or care in an older person’s own home.
“The Government committed to a full review of the Fair Deal scheme, as outlined in the Programme for Government, and this must now be prioritised,” concluded Denis Naughten.