Nursing home beds shortage 'is now looming'
A crisis is looming which could see a major shortage of nursing-home beds for the elderly, a conference was told yesterday afternoon.
The Government was accused of failing to set out a clear plan to meet the nursing home needs of the ageing population.
The warning was sounded by private nursing home owners at the annual meeting of their representative organisation, Nursing Homes Ireland.
Chief executive Tadhg Daly said the Department of Health itself has stated 7,600 additional beds are required to meet nursing home care requirements to the year 2021.
However, he said the Government's six-year capital plan will fall "well short of meeting outstanding works required within public nursing homes. Also, it will not increase the bed capacity within public nursing homes."
Currently around 80pc of beds are provided by private homes and the rest by HSE-run facilities.
It was announced this week that it will take six years for the State to upgrade or close many of these public homes some of which date from the 19th century.
Mr Daly said development of more private nursing homes beds is being hampered by the way the Fair Deal scheme is being run.
The private owners are offered "take it or leave it" fees which are up to 58pc of the amount paid to HSE-run facilities, he said.
Private and public nursing homes are both paid State fees which subsidise the weekly payments from residents' own income.
However, private nursing-home owners are "increasingly irate at the State's continual failure to recognise the true cost of providing nursing home care," he told the gathering in Dublin. "The evidence is pointing to a crisis emerging on a grand scale.
"The frustration within the private and voluntary nursing-home sector surrounding the double standards as to how the State treats public by comparison with private and voluntary nursing homes is boiling over," he added.